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  Eureka All I Need Is Everything
Year: 1984
Director: Nicolas Roeg
Stars: Gene Hackman, Theresa Russell, Rutger Hauer, Joe Pesci, Mickey Rourke, Jane Lapotaire, Ed Lauter, Helena Kallianiotes, Cavan Kendall, Corin Redgrave, Norman Beaton, Joe Spinell
Genre: Drama, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Jack McGann (Gene Hackman) is a gold prospector in the wintry wastes of Canada, where he has spent years searching for his prize. After an enraged fistfight in the snow, he abandons his partner to go it alone, but when he sees a man who has nothing, sitting barefoot in the snowy streets of a smalltown, blow his brains out with a pistol, he is filled with new resolve. He wanders the harsh landscape and finds a precious stone, then seeks shelter for the night in a whorehouse. After leaving in the morning, he finally strikes gold in a mountain cave - he now has everything he always wanted... or does he?

Barely released at the time, this strange, cluttered melodrama marked the decline of Nicolas Roeg in some eyes, as his seventies heyday was truly over with Eureka. Written by Paul Mayersberg from a book by Marshall Houts and based on a sensational true story that gripped the Bahamas at the end of the Second World War, the film was so complex in its presentation that not many viewers would have the time or patience to persevere with it, as once the vivid prospecting scenes are over with, the story leaps forward from 1925 to 1945, and we find McGann is one of the richest men in the world, yet deeply unsatisfied with his life.

McGann lives on his own personal Caribbean island in a sprawling mansion with his wife and servants. He is an obnoxious soul, abrasive, casually racist and paranoid, and loves his daughter Tracy (Theresa Russell) with an unhealthy possessiveness, especially as she is married to the considerably less well off Claude (Rutger Hauer with a French accent), who McGann believes has wed her for her money. Claude and McGann don't see eye to eye, but they both love Tracy, so the father becomes a rival in love for a battle that he can never win. Meanwhile, to complicate matters, influential businessmen (i.e. gangsters) covet McGann's fortune, and want a share, meaning to secure it by fair means or foul.

You can't accuse Eureka of lacking ideas, for a while it seems that every ten minutes a new theme is introduced. Love, family, money, loss, individualism, you name it. Claude believes that McGann has stolen his wealth from nature, as if there is no new wealth to be made, just acquired from what already exists. A mystical element is present, with McGann's Godlessness jarring with the other characters' belief in the purpose religion brings to life, whether it's Judaism, Christianity or even Voodoo, despite the unnamed forces that may have drawn McGann to his wealth. And yet, for much of the lengthy middle section there was a sense of the plot treading water until it found the right time to make its point.

The only purpose in McGann's life was to grab his fortune with both hands and never let it go, leaving him hollow inside but for his anger - the man with everything still wanting more. Yes, it's Citizen Kane all over again (watch for the snowglobe reference), and here the billionaire's empty life is under threat, not from his family, whose love he diminishes with his temper, but from outside interests, led by Joe Pesci's powerful gang boss posing as a respectable businessman, the observation here being that once they're rich enough, they're no such thing. When conventional efforts fail to make an impact with McGann, they turn to threatening methods, which he welcomes. It's as if he's willing them on to destroy him, a self-made man transformed into a self-destructive man.

One of the problems with Eureka is that once the businessmen make their takeover bid with a spanner and a welding torch in an extraordinarily violent sequence, the film has apparently drawn to a natural end - but no! There's still forty minutes of courtroom drama to go, where Tracy and Claude's relationship comes under the microscope, underlining the notion that once you have attained your ultimate goal, you have nowhere left to go - but without that drive, what is left? The staginess of these scenes at least sustains the unreal atmosphere, and Norman Beaton is welcome as the prosecutor, but it's too much, considering the most interesting character is absent and histrionics tend to take over when Tracy takes the stand. It's a film to be studied, but you may not have the enthusiasm for it; nevertheless, it does represent the sort of big budget experimentation that is all too rare in the twenty-first century, probably because after Eureka it was considered box office poison. You could argue Roeg's career never quite recovered from its often captivating excesses. Music by Stanley Meyers.

[Eureka's Master of Cinema collection has released this in a spiffing Blu-ray with restored picture and sound, and as extras a music and effects soundtrack, footage of Roeg at the NFT, three interviews including ones with the producer and writer, and the trailer. There is also a booklet full of information and observation.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Nicolas Roeg  (1928 - 2018)

An acclaimed British cinematographer on sixties films such as Dr Crippen, Masque of the Red Death, Fahrenheit 451, Petulia and Far From the Madding Crowd, Roeg turned co-director with Performance. The seventies were a golden age for Roeg's experimental approach, offering up Walkabout, Don't Look Now, The Man Who Fell To Earth and Bad Timing, but by the eighties his fractured style fell out of favour with Eureka, Insignificance and Track 29. The Witches was an unexpected children's film, but the 1990s and beyond saw him working mostly in television.

 
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