I am a fan of director Shinji Aoyama's and have seen two of his earlier films made in 1997, Wild Life and An Obsession. And I have been meaning to see Eureka (2000), which is generally considered to be his masterpiece, winning the FIPRESCI Prize and Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000. However, I must admit I was a bit put off by the 3 hour 40 minute running time, hence my reluctance to watch it. But I am planning to visit Kitakyushu, Aoyama's hometown and the setting for this film, so I thought it would be a good film to see before visiting. (And I learned from one of the characters that Kokura has better takoyaki (a kind of octopus dumpling) than those in Osaka) At any rate, I was surprised that I was quite absorbed in the film despite the running time and that may be that I have a predilection for lengthy art films and also that I have an interest in Aoyama's films since I wrote about the themes in An Obsession in an academic essay. However, much of this might have to do with the beauty of the cinematography that captures the rural beauty of northern Kyushu in sepia tones rendered black and white for the majority of the film. Koji Yakusho has another nuanced and powerful performance as the damaged Makoto, which calls to mind a similar role he played in Shohei Imamura's The Eel. His performance is supplemented by that of the effective brother-sister actors Masaru and Aoi Miyazaki. Most of the action takes place in the first 15 minutes of the film where the bus Makoto is driving is hijacked and he and the brother and sister are the only survivors of. The remainder of the film deals with the fallout from that traumatic experience for the three survivors. The violence of modern Japanese society is a continuing theme for Aoyama who also examined this in his previous film An Obsession. There are many beautifully filmed scenes, but one stand outs. In this scene the kids' cousin, Akihiko (Yoichior Saito) has arrived and wants them to study and it pans from the girl Kouze obediently doing her homework to her brother Naoki who runs out of the room to the window where one can see Naoki being chases by the cousin through the window. The soundtrack is evocative as well with the summer sounds of cicada and the rustling of grass and a spare piano based score adds to the atmosphere of despair. All that aside, I think the film would have been greatly benefited by editing out an hour or so for more general audiences. That being said this was a great step forward in the artistry of Shinji Aoyama in relations to the earlier films I have seen.