The Eel

Director: Shohei Imamura
Year Released: 1998
Rating: 2.5

Slow-paced, hardly revealing and somewhat predictable, this nevertheless went on to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes some years back, the second time director Shohei Imamura received that award. It isn't nearly as dreadful as The Pornographers, but it isn't exactly something you'd jump for joy over. The main character is an 'ordinary' kind-of guy who, one day, discovers (through an anonymous letter?) his wife is cheating on him, which causes him to calmly kill her and stab her lover (after which he proceeds to the police station with the murder weapon in hand and turns himself in). Eight years pass and he's released, trained as a barber in prison and accompanied by a pet eel which he clings to for emotional gratification. It gets kind-of familiar (yet occasionally bizarre) after here, as he finds a new girl/wife-replacement (whom he saves from suicide, thus negating the earlier murder ... ah, movie logic) and his business flourishes - but she has a shady past too, and this needs some working out. Oh, lessee, there's also a lecherous garbage man, a fanatic who tries to contact UFOs and a flamenco-dancing psychotic tossed in there, just ... because. Imamura drools not only over the hokey symbolism of the eels and their breeding and how this all relates to the story, but also over his long shots of not-much-of-anything-happening (in a Mizoguchi/Tarkovsky/Kiarostami way). Could've used some cutting.