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UK / USA 1983
Directed by
Nicolas Roeg
130 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars


Ending ten years of critical and commercial successes that stretched from Performance (1970) to Bad Timing (1980), Nicolas Roeg’s mojo disappeared comprehensively with this would-be baroque but largely lame misfire.

Based on a presumably much more coherent novel by Marshall Houts, it tells the story of a gold prospector Jack McCann (Gene Hackman) who discovers a fabulous fortune. Some thirty years later he is living on his own tropical island with his lush of a wife (Jane Lapotaire) and his slutty daughter with father issues (Theresa Russell) who has married a smarmy playboy (Rutger Hauer) whom Jack despises. Adding to his troubles the Miami Mafia (represented by Joe Pesci's hard man and Mickey Rourke's lawyer) are trying to muscle in on his Caribbean idyll using Jack’s spineless right-hand man (Ed Lauter) to broker a deal.  Clearly, being the richest man in the world isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  

In his previous films Roeg demonstrated a winning ability to infuse his often dark stories with morally turgid drama. With Eureka he over-reaches himself with a disjointed story that achieves nothing other than to demonstrate the banal message that money can’t buy happiness (or some variant on that general theme).  

Roeg is known for his refusal to work from a shooting script and it is entirely probable that this is exactly what he did with this mess that rambles so badly that even its actors seem gradually to lose the point of what they are doing as they wade through the piecemeal plot and over-ripe dialogue (Russell’s courtroom scene is an outstanding example of this). One might say that this is just the downside of Roeg’s non-linear approach but the film is actually badly made in places, with uneven sound quality and poorly staged action scenes.

Roeg briefly recovered his footing with Insignificance (1985) but he has yet to come close to matching the impressive output of his first decade.




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