7.4/10
4,758
22 user 40 critic

The Eel (1997)

Unagi (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 21 August 1998 (USA)
A businessman kills his adulterous wife and is sent to prison. After the release, he opens a barbershop and meets new people, talking almost to no one except an eel he befriended while in prison.

Director:

Reviews
16 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

In a poor 19th century rural Japanese village, everyone who reaches the age of 70 has to climb a nearby mountain to die. An old woman is getting close to the cut-off age, and we follow her last days with her family.

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Ken Ogata, Sumiko Sakamoto, Tonpei Hidari
Dr. Akagi (1998)
Comedy | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

At the end of WWII, Japanese doctor Akagi searches for the cure for hepatitis in the prisoner-of-war camp.

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Akira Emoto, Kumiko Asô, Jacques Gamblin
Kuroi ame (1989)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The story of the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing, based on Masuji Ibuse's novel.

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Yoshiko Tanaka, Kazuo Kitamura, Etsuko Ichihara
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The beginings of the Algerian Revolution as seen through the eyes of a peasant.

Director: Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina
Stars: Yorgo Voyagis, Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina, Leila Shenna
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In the 1930's, Max Brown is an urban young man from an Eastern province, fresh from college, whose only job offer is in a one-room school house in the Canadian prairie. At first he's ... See full summary »

Director: Silvio Narizzano
Stars: Bud Cort, Samantha Eggar, Chris Wiggins
La petite patrie (TV Series 1974)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

La famille Germain habite le quartier Villeray à Montréal, dans les années 1940's. Le père, Edmond, est restaurateur. Autour de lui se retrouvent son épouse Gertrude et leurs quatre enfants... See full summary »

Stars: Rolland Bédard, Bertrand Gagnon, Ronald France
La p'tite semaine (TV Series 1974)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Lucien Lajoie dirige un petit magasin général dans un quartier modeste de l'est montréalais. Grincheux et bougon, il déteste qu'on le contredise. Ginette, sa femme, naïve à ses heures, a ... See full summary »

Stars: Jean Besré, Christiane Delisle, Ousseynou Diop
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Stars: Orson Welles, Edward Albert, Harry Andrews
Boney (1972–1973)
Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
Stars: James Laurenson, Kate Fitzpatrick, David Gulpilil
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In 1942 even after a formal promise from the Liberal Party of Canada in the last election: "Never the Conscription", the Canadian Government vote a Conscription Law. In Quebec where the ... See full summary »

Director: Clément Perron
Stars: Serge L'Italien, Rachel Cailhier, Jacques Thisdale
Picolo (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Stars: Paul Buissonneau, Michel Cailloux, Guy L'Ecuyer
Des dames de coeur (1986–1989)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The story of four modern women in their forties, facing the hard reality of urban life.

Stars: Dorothée Berryman, Raymond Bouchard, Andrée Boucher
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Takuro Yamashita
...
Keiko Hattori
Mitsuko Baishô ...
Misako Nakajima
Akira Emoto ...
Tamotsu Takasaki
Fujio Tokita ...
Shô Aikawa ...
Yuji Nozawa
Ken Kobayashi ...
Masaki Saito
Sabu Kawahara ...
Seitaro Misato
Etsuko Ichihara ...
Fumie Hattori
Tomorô Taguchi ...
Eiji Dojima
Chiho Terada ...
Emiko Yamashita
Shinshô Nakamaru
Sei Hiraizumi
Seiji Kurasaki
Toshirô Ishidô
Edit

Storyline

White-collar worker Yamashita finds out that his wife has a lover visiting her when he's away, suddenly returns home and kills her. After eight years in prison, he returns to live in a small village, opens a barber shop (he was trained as a barber in prison) and talks almost to no-one except for the eel he "befriended" in prison. One day he finds the unconscious body of Keiko, who attempted suicide and reminds him of his wife. She starts to work at his shop, but he doesn't let her become close to him. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 August 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Eel  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Edit

Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$29,879, 23 August 1998, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$413,793, 30 May 1999
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

French visa # 92472 See more »

Quotes

Jiro Nakajima: Is it bad to have such rumors about a guy on parole?
See more »

Connections

Featured in Especial Cannes: 50 Anos de Festival (1997) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Exploring the Inner Turmoil of the Outwardly Placid Mind
18 May 2005 | by See all my reviews

Guilt and Redemption are the pervasive themes of this quirky, disturbing, very fine film from Shohei Imamura. The consequences of the instantaneous loss of control molds this story in the way such life happenstances unfold - slowly - and Imamura knows how to take us with him in this strange tale, pausing here and there for the surreal, dreamlike sequences that can and do alter our perceptions of reality.

Takuro Yamashita (Kôji Yakusho) is a quietly married blue-collar worker who spends some evenings fishing for sport and food, his passive wife Emiko (Chiho Terada) sending him off with boxed lunches. Takuro receives an anonymous letter that states his wife is having an affair while he slips away to fish. Incredulous, Takuro returns early form his nocturnal fishing to find his wife engaged in passionate sex and Takuro stabs her to death, then bicycles to the police station and turns himself in for the murder of Emiko. He is imprisoned for eight years and conforms to the rigid life of the incarcerated, his only companion is a pet eel with whom he feels he can communicate.

Upon release from prison, Takuro is placed under the supervision of a kindly priest who helps him start a barbershop, living a quiet secluded life, his only friends being his pet eel and a strange character who has set up a field station to attract friendly aliens from outer space! All is calm until he encounters Keiko (Misa Shimizu) who closely resembles his murdered wife and indeed is suicidal from her own slashes in an attempt to negate the genetic threat of her mentally disturbed mother and her own consignation with an underworld lover Eiji Dojima (Tomorowo Taguchi), a man who holds her under his control to gain the mad mother's money committed to his evil schemes. Takuro saves Keiko from her suicide attempt and the priest encourages him to take on Keiko as an assistant.

The barbershop does well and Takuro and Keiko make good business partners. Takuro is emotionally dead over his guilt for the murder of his wife and refuses to entertain the idea of opening himself to Keiko's loving advances. There are too many similarities between the dead Emiko and the frightened Keiko. Yet when all of the forces collide in the climax of the film, Takuro realizes how much of his past is mixed with fantasy/nightmare and, equally, how much his present is dependent on his interaction with Keiko (now pregnant with Dojima's baby), the priest, his sci-fi friend and the forces who would destroy Keiko and his quiet existence. The ending, somewhat marred by a keystone kops like fight, reveals the cracks in Takuro's mental armor and the possibility for redemption unfolds in a tender way.

There are many levels of interpretation to this fable and to explore each of them would rob the first-time viewer of this little film of the pleasure of the chess game Imamura sets for us. The acting is solid, the night scenes are lovely, and the day scenes are as visually chaotic as the real world in which we live. There could be improvements in the editing, definitely in the musical score and in the camera work. But those are minor blemishes in this film that engages the mind in the challenge of entering a new mode of thought. A strange little film, this, and not for everyone. Grady Harp


12 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?
Review this title | See all 22 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page