Shinji Aoyama


Eureka has all the elements of a potentially great movie. But instead of tightly weaving those elements together into a powerful film, Japanese director Shinji Aoyama sets them adrift in a three-and-a-half-hour movie badly in need of editing. The movie explores the aftermath of a bloody bus-jacking in which only three people survive — the bus driver and two children. Shortly after the incident, the children, who refuse to talk, are orphaned. The bus driver eventually moves in and together the three try to come to terms with the brutality of life. Two of the principal characters in the movie don't talk, and the film as a result is a largely silent one. This is not necessarily a recipe for a bad movie — The Thin Red Line and 2001 are both examples of long and silent movies that work. But the images in Eureka, though beautifully shot, don't have the startling resonance of those two masterpieces. Though the movie is about healing and a somewhat slower pace may be justified, Eureka is too painstakingly slow for its own good. Towards the end of the movie, instead of being impressed by the individual shots and their ability to distil emotion, one starts wondering if the director will ever cut to the next shot, or ever arrive at the last one. Still, it's clear that Aoyama has a lot of talent, but someone needs to go over the basic tenets of editing with him.