Synopsis by Jonathan Crow
One of the leading voices in the new Japanese cinema, Shinji Aoyama directs this saga about memory, grief, and redemption. Shot in stark black and white, the film opens with the sudden and inexplicably bloody hijacking of a bus in rural Kyushu. The crazed gunman (Riju Go) shoots two passengers in the back as they try to flee. Stepping out of the bus for some fresh air, the hijacker drags bus driver Makoto (played by the ubiquitous Koji Yakusho) along for cover. When the driver faints and falls to the ground, police snipers shoot the terrorist. In his last dying effort, the hijacker stumbles back on board the bus, where he murders an old lady and tries to kill a pair of shocked schoolchildren, Naoki (Masaru Miyazaki) and Kozue (Aoi Miyazaki). Two years later, the experience has wreaked havoc on the lives of the three sole survivors. Distanced and easily distracted, Makoto's weird behavior -- particularly his habit of wandering off unannounced for days at a time -- finally takes its toll on his marriage. Meanwhile, Naoki and Kozue are left mute from the event, though they can communicate. The silent siblings' mother soon walks out of her marriage, and their father kills himself in a car wreck, leaving them alone in a large house with a substantial insurance check. Having found work at a construction company, Makoto's strange behavior starts to raise a few eyebrows, especially when he utterly ignores the advances of a comely office worker. Soon the village is rocked by news of murdered women washing up on a nearby river bank; Makoto's brother suspects him and asks him to leave their family house. He shows up on the doorstep of Naoki and Kozue's house, which has devolved into utter disrepair, and the trio forms a family of sorts. Their relative peace and order is upset by Akihiko (Yohichiroh Saitoh), the bumptious cousin from Tokyo on vacation from college who is insensitive to the trauma that the trio has endured and increasingly suspicious of the kids' ersatz guardian. His disapproval of Makoto grows when that same comely office work turns up dead, and Makoto is the prime suspect. Looking to break out of their routine, and cleared of murder charges, Makoto purchases an old bus and converts it into a camper. Taking his three housemates on an odyssey that begins at the site of the hijacking, they slowly start to reconcile the grief and pain that so destroyed their lives. Unfortunately, the killing seems to follow them along their way. A poignant, emotional journey clocking in at just under four hours, Eureka won the prestigious FIPRESCI Award at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival and was screened at the 2000 Toronto and New York Film Festivals.
bus, hijacker, murder, mute