Eureka

Eureka

Are you the sort of person who is open to the idea of sitting through a 3-hour, 40-minute, black-and-white Japanese film? If so, then keep reading. If not, then nothing I can say will get you to watch Eureka, because that's exactly what it is.

This film offers many rewards for its viewers' patience, both aesthetically and emotionally. And it doesn't bore. The story follows the lives of three survivors of a horrendous bus hijacking: the bus driver (Koji Yakusho, best known in the US for starring in the sleeper hit Shall We Dance?) and two young teens (real-life siblings Aoi and Masaru Miyazaki). The children, since orphaned after the incident, have retreated into a world of stunned silence. Together with their bemused older cousin (Yoichiro Saito), the driver attempts to create a makeshift family, bonding with the children over their shared trauma.

The monochromatic cinematography is breathtaking; virtually every shot could be framed and hung on the wall. The pacing is, obviously, a bit on the slow side, but it ultimately benefits the film: we are given a rare opportunity to spend enough time with these characters that we feel we really know them, not just for what they say but for what they are: how they eat, how they sit, what it's like to be in a room with them.

Finally, what we're left with is what connects our broken protagonists: a shared memory of a shattering experience. Eureka isn't one of the greatest films ever made, but it has something to say, and there's an admirable boldness in its deliberately-paced approach.