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Movie Review by Alice Castle

Starring: Koji Yakusho, Aoi Miyazahi, Masaru Miyazaki
Director: Shinji Aoyama

In 1995 followers of the Aum Shin Rikyo cult released sarin gas on the Tokyo metro killing 12 and making a further 6,000 ill. I was living just north of Tokyo and had friends living and working in the city – the event was terrifying – something you hope will never, ever happen again. Japan as a nation was deeply shocked. A whole generation had been living a sanitised existence far away from the threat of war or terrorism and what with the Kobe earthquake as well as an awful murder committed by a teenager the same year, some people thought the apocalypse was about to happen. Scandal rags and popular TV fuelled the hysteria, which later died down and was replaced by cheerier and equally headline grabbing stories of sumo wrestlers marrying soap stars and film actresses.

EUREKA is the story of what happens after mass panic dies down – of what becomes of the people involved in traumatic events once the TV crews and reporters in Macs disappear from outside their houses. It deals with a bus hijacking in rural Kyushhu, south Japan, but EUREKA is far from SPEED among the rice paddies and daikon fields. Two junior high students Kozue and Naoki are on their way to school when the hi-jacking occurs. Along with their brave bus driver Mr Sawai, played by Koji Yakusho (the timid salary man in SHALL WE DANCE) Kozue and Naoki witness the killing of hostages and the eventual shooting of the hi-jacker. The event itself passes quickly at the beginning of the film – and the following 3 and a quarter hours, in dream-like sepia, follows the lives of the three survivors.

After their immediate medical treatment following the event the two children and bus driver are left to get on with their lives. Plagued with survivor guilt Sawai can no longer play his role as husband, son and bus driver and ventures off to find himself. Kozue and Naoki meanwhile, have entered a pact of mutual silence, which leads their own parents to split up and leave them in an unusual orphaned state. After a period on the road Sawai seeks them out and tries to help them get their lives back in order. The three survivors find themselves as outsiders in a country where uniformity is everything. And when dead female bodies start to be found in the area, it is Sawai who is suspected by the police. Joined by Akihiko a cousin sent by a greedy aunt to check up on the children the hi-jack survivors embark on a road trip to try and come to terms with their trauma.

At 3 hours 37 minutes EUREKA is not for those with a short attention span. But if you like long moody shots, and some wonderful photography and acting, it is well worth a viewing.

4 out of 6 stars