The Eel (Unagi)
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Veteran filmmaker and perennial iconoclast Shohei Imamura directs this darkly comic tale about love, redemption, and a man's beloved pet eel. The film opens with Takuro Yamashita (Koji Yakusho), a seemingly normal salaryman, learning that his wife might be having an affair. When he catches the couple in flaganto delicto, he freaks out and brutally stabs them both to death. Eight years later, Yamashita is released on parole into the care of a Buddhist priest living in rural Chiba prefecture. Far away from his former life, yet still plagued with memories of his crime, Yamashita decides to… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Unpredictable and captivating."
‑ Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
"Yakusho and Ms. Shimizu deliver unerring performances in a splendid film that harvests hope from a bleak landscape."
‑ Lawrence Van Gelder, New York Times
"This excellent drama, based on a novel, reveals the beginning of a relationship between two souls who are trying to move beyond the wounds of the past."
‑ Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice
"What starts out as intriguing turns into simply baffling."
‑ Andrew Collins, Empire Magazine
"In a way, The Eel is very much like Black Rain, and nearly as great."
‑ G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Examiner
"I was once again stuck watching a movie that's solely about repressed passion, perhaps the least cinematic thing you could ever try to film."
‑ Paul Tatara,
"This simple, sinuous fable may not be among Imamura's greatest films ... but it could hardly have been made by anyone else."
‑ J. Hoberman, Village Voice
"[An] odd, affecting little film."
‑ Michael W. Phillips, Jr., Goatdog's Movies
"Just when it seems like 'The Eel' is going to settle into a standard love-conquers-fear tale, the writers begin coloring in the characters, revealing their secrets and insecurities. The results are sometimes shocking and sometimes funny..."
‑ James Sanford, Kalamazoo Gazette
"An interesting film that works most effectively as an introspective study of how to deal with one's anger and love."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"It sounds nuts, but one of the best movies in town is about the relationship of a man with his eel."
‑ Bob Graham, San Francisco Chronicle
"Imamura composed The Eel with an artist's eye and takes his time, so don't expect a fast-paced American-style film."
‑ Judith Egerton, Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
"Yakusho gives a good performance in the lead role but the screenplay does not go beneath the surface of the characters."
‑ Ed Scheid, Boxoffice Magazine
"Although it starts off like a sports car barreling down the highway in high gear, the director shifts into neutral right after the opening credits end and coasts until almost all momentum is lost."
‑ Steve Rhodes, Internet Reviews
"A beautiful character study -- comedic scenes notwithstanding -- that ends on a hopeful note."
‑ Liz Braun, Jam! Movies
More reviews for The Eel (Unagi) on Rotten Tomatoes