EUREKA

PrintE-mail Written by Robert Martin

'Once I had it all. Now, I just have everything.'

Pity the man who seeks his fortune in gold, only to find that life lived as a rich man makes you suspect that everyone else is gold digging for themselves...

Loosely based on a true story, Nicolas Roeg's seventh feature tells of the fortunes both personal and financial of Klondike prospector Gene Hackman. Here is a man determined never to rely on another man's sweat to find his way in life, and years spent trying to find gold in the snowy Canadian mountains finally pays off when he slips into a cave following a mystical near death experience.

Inside the cave, a beautifully realised piece of production design by Michael Seymour (Alien), the liquid gold flows, almost drowning Hackman in wealth. At one point he emerges from beneath a golden pool in a reflection of the classic shot of Donald Sutherland lifting his dead daughter from the water in Roeg's Don't Look Now, only here the man is full of hope for a dreamt of future not made real.

And as he emerges from this pool, he glances around suspiciously, looking out for anyone who might claim the gold he now considers his own. This is how the rest of his life will unfold. 

Years later and the richest man in the world wants for nothing in material wealth on his island in the Bermudas, whilst his wife drinks to relieve the tedium and his daughter (Roeg's own wife Theresa Russell) marries a man Hackman is convinced is after his fortune, brilliantly played by Rutger Hauer from Blade Runner.

As greedy investors move in seeking to develop on his land, and against a backdrop of war and voodoo occultism, Hackman's heightened paranoia finds him isolated and looking back at a life which should have given him everything. His paranoia though is not unfounded. 

When it was released in 1983, Eureka didn't get many gold stars from the critics, and it certainly doesn't achieve the grand status of the likes of Roeg's best works, Walkabout, The Man Who Fell to Earth or Don't Look Now. However, there's much to enjoy here if you're familiar with the director, his signature style in full evidence – cross cutting between time periods, juxtaposing images which are seemingly unconnected, handheld shots amidst formality and stunningly beautiful photography.

Whilst the always-brilliant Hackman is on screen, it grips like a tight gold chain, and the supporting cast is great too, including early performances by Mickey Rourke and Joe Pesci. But, and here comes a big spoiler, following one of the most grisly and disturbing murder scenes you'll ever see, the last half hour suffers from his absence and there's a feeling that the film could have and should have ended at that point, the continuing story of Russell and Hauer being of less dramatic interest.

If you're a fan of Roeg's work, there's a lot to gain from Eureka but it's probably not the best of his work to catch if you've only ever seen The Witches, as good as that is.

EUREKA / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: NICOLAS ROEG / STARRING: GENE HACKMAN, RUTGET HAUER, MICKEY ROURKE, JOE PESCI, THERESA RUSSELL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW


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