Writer-director Shinji Aoyama's "Eureka" is a magnificent, sprawling piece of cinema that's truly breathtaking. The film opens on an armed psychopath hijacking a commuter bus in suburban Japan. In the aftermath of a violent shootout with the police, only three of the people on the bus survive: the driver and two schoolchildren.
Two years later the driver returns to the scene of the crime and begins to pick up the pieces of his life. He learns that the two children are living alone in their parents' house. Their mother has vanished, their father's dead and they refuse to speak to anyone. Desperate to help them reconnect with the world, the driver moves in with them.
Filmed in muted sepia Cinemascope, "Eureka" is one of the year's most visually arresting releases. Blending its story of bereavement with thriller elements - the police think the driver may be responsible for a spate of local serial killings - "Eureka" creates a palpable feeling of unease.
Shinji Aoyama expertly creates tension out of nothing, building upon his slightly off-kilter set-up with a series of languorous long takes that emphasise the film's disturbing stretches of stillness.
This malevolent feel could suggest that "Eureka" is moving towards a "Ring" style terror. But the real horror in this film comes from knowing that the characters have stared into the abyss and come back empty.
This is wonderful film-making in every way, a near perfect study of how the world continues after tragedy. At three-and-a-half hours it's definitely too long, but that's a minor gripe in an otherwise flawless film.