review for Eureka on AllMovie

Eureka (2000)
by Jonathan Crow review

Eureka is a nuanced tale about the lingering emotional cost of sudden, inexplicable tragedy, told on an epic scale (think The Sweet Hereafter merged with The Searchers). Director Shinji Aoyama, who has been consistently responsible for some of the most interesting works to come out of Japan, was reportedly inspired to write this tale in the wake of religious cult Aum Shinrikyo's 1995 nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway. Indeed, the film's dour desperation nails the zeitgeist of Japan during the mid- to late 1990s, when the country's economic recession and repeated freak crimes contributed to an overall sense of malaise. As with earlier works such as Helpless, Aoyama's sense of character is remarkably acute and, for Eureka, he bravely uses the film's much noted four-hour length to allow the emotions of the characters to evolve from shock and grief to a slow and painful acceptance of that violent episode, in a manner that never seems forced or cliched. Koji Yakusho is, as always, excellent as a man who is haunted by his past and struggling to regain sense in his life. Aoi Miyazaki and Masaru Miyazaki -- first-time actors and real-life siblings -- are remarkably assured as mute twins who struggle for a reason to live. Renowned cinematographer Masaki Tamura's black and white cinematography gives the film a stark, wintry feel that deftly evokes the internal worlds of the film's characters. Eureka is a brave work of pain and redemption by one of world cinema's new shining lights.