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MOVIE REVIEW
Eureka (2023)

“Eureka” has too many ideas and no shape for them. It's especially irritating as some of the images were the strongest of the Cannes Film Festival. But images need a plot; and a plot needs structure, or at least more than this.

It starts so strongly, with Viggo Mortensen as a cowboy on a black-and-white quest in a Western town so debased women think nothing of staggering topless outside to vomit before collapsing into their own sick. It's gorgeously shot and framed by Timo Salminen and Mauro Herce Mira; and Mr. Mortensen is outstanding as a man who cannot be distracted from his unpleasant work. (My colleague Tim Hayes’s remark about his granite personality remains unerringly accurate.)

But then we see that Mr. Mortensen’s performance is in an old movie that Alaina (Alaina Clifford) has on for company as she gets ready for work. Suddenly we are in color as Alaina chats with Sadie (Sadie Lapointe). She is a policewoman on a reservation in North Dakota; and her wearisome night shift involves searching for a missing child, arresting a pregnant teenager for threatening her foster mother with a knife, and following a car driven so drunkenly that its driver doesn't notice he's being arrested too. There's also a lost French woman (Chiara Mastroianni) whose rental car has broken down. Meanwhile Sadie goes to visit her brother in jail, where they reminisce about the time they stole their mother's car and she called the police on them. And then, with the help of her grandfather (Rafi Pitts), Sadie does something impossible and the movie tilts again, to the Brazilian rain forest, where two men in the same indigenous village are in love with the same woman. Does that lead to trouble? You betcha. Will you have the strength to care by this point? Probably not.

It is quite a thing to see a movie collapse upon itself. What were Mr. Alonso and his cowriters Fabian Casas and Martin Camaño thinking? The stories don't fit together and eventually the entire film feels like being driven around in a jerry-rigged car. It's fun and unusual but it might also explode at any moment; and you know the person driving is not a safe pair of hands. Film festivals are the entirely accurate home for work like this, but this is not the great discovery the title implies. Despite its beauty, it’s full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

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