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The Eel (Unagi) (1998)



Average Rating: 7/10
Critic Reviews: 7
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 1

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 2,954

My Rating

Movie Info

Japan's maverick master Shohei Imamura delivers a gentle, droll and haunting film about an ex-con making his awkward way to redemption.

Apr 12, 2005

Atalanta Filmes

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All Critics (31) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (20) | Rotten (6) | DVD (4)

Unpredictable and captivating.

February 14, 2001 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I was once again stuck watching a movie that's solely about repressed passion, perhaps the least cinematic thing you could ever try to film.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It sounds nuts, but one of the best movies in town is about the relationship of a man with his eel.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
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Yakusho and Ms. Shimizu deliver unerring performances in a splendid film that harvests hope from a bleak landscape.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This simple, sinuous fable may not be among Imamura's greatest films ... but it could hardly have been made by anyone else.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Imamura composed The Eel with an artist's eye and takes his time, so don't expect a fast-paced American-style film.

July 2, 2004 Full Review Source: Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

This excellent drama, based on a novel, reveals the beginning of a relationship between two souls who are trying to move beyond the wounds of the past.

March 2, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

[An] odd, affecting little film.

February 28, 2002 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

Yakusho gives a good performance in the lead role but the screenplay does not go beneath the surface of the characters.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

What starts out as intriguing turns into simply baffling.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Just when it seems like 'The Eel' is going to settle into a standard love-conquers-fear tale, the writers begin coloring in the characters, revealing their secrets and insecurities. The results are sometimes shocking and sometimes funny...

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Kalamazoo Gazette
Kalamazoo Gazette

Although it starts off like a sports car barreling down the highway in high gear, the director shifts into neutral right after the opening credits end and coasts until almost all momentum is lost.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Internet Reviews
Internet Reviews

In a way, The Eel is very much like Black Rain, and nearly as great.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: San Francisco Examiner
San Francisco Examiner

An interesting film that works most effectively as an introspective study of how to deal with one's anger and love.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A beautiful character study -- comedic scenes notwithstanding -- that ends on a hopeful note.

January 1, 2000
Jam! Movies

Effectively emotional, quiet, and leisurely paced.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Compuserve

A flash of quiet brilliance that resonates long after the images have faded from the screen.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

An oddly affecting and haunting film, thanks to the deliberate pacing and an appropriately enigmatic starring turn by actor Koji Yakusho.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

An alternately poignant and funny film which transcends the limitations of its seemingly ludicrous plot.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

If the film stumbles before the climax, perhaps it's because Imamura has inserted too many distracting subplots which somehow feel gauche and overcooked.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for The Eel (Unagi)

Rage, remorse, regeneration, redemption, romance and a lot of frankly baffling whimsy.

I felt this movie was just all over the map and did not satisfy.

"An erotic spellbinder." ??????, um... no.
May 23, 2007

Super Reviewer

In the most perverse circumstances, a story of affection and redemption in The Eel. Reflective. Optimistic. Oddly charming.
September 10, 2011
Jan Marc Macababayao

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]In "The Eel", Takuro Yamashita(Koji Yakusho) is an office worker who has been receiving anonymous letters about his wife's infidelity while he goes on nighttime fishing trips. In order to investigate these claims, he cuts one such trip short, and does indeed catch her having sex with another man. He snaps and brutally murders her. Then, he calmly bikes down to the police station and turns himself in. Eight years later, he is released from prison on parole with his pet eel. He relocates to a sleepy seaside village under the watchful eye of his parole officer and with some inheritance money, he opens a barber shop, hoping to keep out of trouble. But then, he stumbles across an attempted suicide...[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"The Eel" is an offbeat movie that would at first seem to be about redemption but is actually about how none of us are truly alone, either literally or figuratively. In other words, there is no way to avoid becoming involved in other people's lives.[/font]
March 29, 2006
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Der Aal (DE)
  • L'Anguille (FR)
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