Sunday, December 11, 2011

I Have Found What I'm Looking For

Eureka (1983) - Roeg
What a weird film. It starts out with a bang literally, then comfortably slips into a melodrama peppered with fate, chance, mysticism, true love and discovering oneself. Jack McCann (Gene Hackman) hits the jackpot in Alaskan gold rush in 1925. He became filthy rich and now lives on some Caribbean island. His daughter Tracy (Theresa Russell) is madly in love with beguiling, yet sinister Claude (Rutger Hauer in his prime beauty). It's the gold and wealth that puts rift on McCann's relationship with the world- his family and others alike. McCann and Claude don't see each other eye to eye. Daddy's a little more than possessive. Then there is Miami businessmen (Joe Pesci and Mickey Rourke) trying to buy McCann's island and build a casino. They won't take no for an answer. They will take it with force if necessary.

All this is told in true Roeg fashion- crazy zoom-ins, expressive editing, dizzing set pieces: all in the first 20 minutes (visually, the rest of the film doesn't hold the candle to its strong beginning). Even though it's messy as hell, it retains that organic Roeg quality- beautiful, ugly, sensual, abrupt, violent....

The eclectic mix of actors in Eureka can be distracting. I guess John Malkovitch and Christopher Walken weren't available for the roles. Hauer resembles David Bowie in Roeg's Man Who Fell to Earth. Obviously he is an actor with limited range, but here has the most complex role in his career as a vain man who floats through life without searching for anything. Russell always strikes me as an odd duck and no exception here as the millionaire's daughter, but personally I like her working class delivery and her edginess. Hackman is all volatility and cockiness as always.

One can easily draw a comparison between this and There Will Be Blood. But where Daniel Plainview is merely a one dimensional insatiable greed personified, McCann's pathos runs deeper. The film is a spiritual one. McCann sums up the film nicely when he says, "Yesterday I had it all. But today, I just have everything." In essence, McCann's journey to find that 'Eureka' moment in one's life ends in the beginning 10-15 minutes of the film. The rest is 'now what?' But like all Roeg films, it's an interesting one.

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