Lisandro Alonso is a director whose films pose important questions. Questions about the essence of life, death, and human nature. In Eureka, the director proposes another question: do films have to be interesting? 

Eureka is a minimalistic, abstract film, that travels across multiple time periods via four distinct acts. Upon opening, the film lures the audience in with the impression of an unconventional Western. Viggo Mortensen takes the reins as a morally questionable outlaw on the search for his daughter, proving the power of his presence as he manages to remain compelling despite being costumed as an aging Pringles man. Through this short act, we begin to expect a film of a slightly unorthodox style that may prove frustrating at times, but will nonetheless be an interesting watch. And then we move on to the next act. From there on in, the film never really offers a chance for the viewer to care about any aspect of the character, or the storyline that it loosely pretends to offer. By the time it reaches the final part, any notion of structure or continuity is long forgotten, as is the patience of even the most dedicated film fans. 

The most harrowing aspect of this film is the pacing. It’s a film with nowhere to go, and it’s in no rush to get there. A fact that is made more and more noticeable with each act. While the limited, sedate dialogue and exaggerated cinematography might appeal to some viewers, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who could argue it was remotely enthralling. There are whole sections during which you could leave to stick the kettle on and feel confident you won’t miss a thing. In fact, you could probably head for a full three-course meal, and come back to the same scene you left on with as much understanding of the film as you would have had if you’d wasted your time watching it. 

There are, thankfully, some moments of interest in this overly laboured work. As a film with a heavy focus on nature, the visuals are truly beautiful, something that luckily seems to grow as the film staggers reluctantly towards an ending. On top of this, each member of the cast is clearly talented and delivers their role as well as could be expected given the limitations of the film. In particular, Sadie LePointe shines during her brief moment on the screen, though given the film’s complete lack of interest in characters the use of such talent honestly feels like a waste. Ultimately, with its stunning visuals, slow pacing, and lack of any real direction, the film feels more akin to one of those ambient crackling fire videos than it does a piece of art. So why bother with all the extra elements when the fire works just as well, and at least with those nobody expects you to pay attention? 

If you as a viewer are willing to accept that a film doesn’t have to have a plot, or anything to catch your attention whatsoever, you might just get something out of Eureka. If you’re not, hopefully this review saved you two and a half hours. In answer to Alonso’s question; no, films do not have to be interesting, but gosh, it sure is nice when they are. 

In selected cinemas now