Eel, The: Shohei Imamura’s Cannes Fest Winner

Veteran filmmaker and perennial iconoclast Shohei Imamura directs this darkly comic tale about love, redemption, and a man’s beloved pet eel, which won the Grand Prix at the 1997 Cannes Film Fest.

The film opens with Takuro Yamashita (Koji Yakusho), a seemingly normal salaryman, learning that his wife might be having an affair. When he catches the couple in flaganto delicto, he freaks out and brutally stabs them both to death. Eight years later, Yamashita is released on parole into the care of a Buddhist priest living in rural Chiba prefecture. Far away from his former life, yet still plagued with memories of his crime, Yamashita decides to start anew by opening a barbershop on a quiet road next to a canal.

Though inward looking and self-conscious, he eventually befriends a bumptious but good-hearted day laborer, and a construction worker who’s obsessed with UFOs. His most fateful encounter though is with a woman named Keiko (Misa Shimizu), who he discovers unconscious following a suicide attempt. Looking to put a few of her own demons to bed, Keiko decides to stay in this sleepy corner of Japan and help her savior with his barbershop. Initially against the idea — she bears a striking resemblance to his dead spouse — he eventually agrees and even grows to like having her around.

Shohei Imamura.

Shohei Imamura, Daisuke Tengan, Motofumi Tomikawa

Aug 21, 1998 Wide

Apr 12, 2005

Released by Atalanta Filmes


Koji Yakusho Takuro Yamashita

Misa Shimizu Keiko Hattori

Mitsuko Baisho Misako Nakajima

Etsuko Ichihara Fumie Hattori

Tomorowo Taguchi Eiji Dojima

Akira Emoto Tamotsu Takasaki