You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachtani?

Shinji Aoyama's "Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachtani?" reverberates with screeching sounds but can't find any emotional resonance. Jumbling futuristic plague drama, pic goes on aural attack mode so often that auds may wish a mute button was installed on their armrests. Beautifully rich lensing won't be enough to overcome "fests only" warning signs.

With: Tadanobu Asano, Aoi Miyazaki, Okada Mariko, Masaya Nakahara, Yasutaka Tsutsui, Masahiro Toda.

A patience-testing parable more akin to the muddled “Desert Moon” than helmer’s acclaimed “Eureka,” Shinji Aoyama’s “Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachtani?” reverberates with screeching sounds but can’t find any emotional resonance. Jumbling futuristic plague drama with half-hearted detective tribute, pic goes on aural attack mode so often that auds may wish a mute button was installed on their armrests. Beautifully rich lensing in the service of a maddeningly elliptical tale won’t be enough to overcome “fests only” warning signs.

Late autumn, 2015: The world is in the grips of a mysterious virus, nicknamed the Lemming Syndrome because those infected develop a depression so strong they commit suicide. Musicians Mizui (the ubiquitous Tadanobu Asano) and Asuhara (Masaya Nakahara), of the post punk group Stepin Fetchit, may have found a way to alleviate the disease’s symptoms through dissonant sound.

Business exec Miyagi (Yasutaka Tsutsui), whose granddaughter Hana (Aoi Miyazaki) is suffering from the illness, hires detective Natsuishi (Masahiro Toda) to locate the two musicians in the hope they can at least temporarily stop her urge toward self-destruction. Climactic scene resembles nothing so much as a tedious music vid, with an equal amount of superficiality disguised as catharsis.

The cast, all memorable in other roles, makes little impression, but they’re not given much to work with. Strong suit is undoubtedly Masaki Tamra’s attractive visuals, from early scenes on a wind-swept beach to empty autumnal landscapes, but they’re put at the service of a weak script that fails to develop.

Even pic’s title, coming from Jesus’ words on the cross, carries more than a whiff of over-reaching pretension. Strong noises, performed by Asano and Nakahara, may help cure Lemming Syndrome, but could engender murderous thoughts among auds.

Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachtani?


Production: A Tokyo FM, VAP and Rumble Fish presentation of a Rumble Fish production. (International sales: Wild Bunch, Paris.) Produced by Takenori Sento. Directed, written by Shinji Aoyama.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Masaki Tamra; music, Hiroyuki Nagashima; production designer, Takeshi Shimizu; set decorator, Yuichiro Endo; costume designer, Hisano Ogura; sound (DTS), Nobuyuki Kikuchi; associate producer, Kumi Sato. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), May 17, 2005. Running time: 107 MIN.

With: With: Tadanobu Asano, Aoi Miyazaki, Okada Mariko, Masaya Nakahara, Yasutaka Tsutsui, Masahiro Toda.

More Film

  • Black Panther

    'Black Panther,' 'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Westworld' Among Costume Designers Guild Winners

    “Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” walked away with top honors at the 21st annual Costume Designers Guild Awards Tuesday night, the final industry guild show before the Oscars on Feb. 24. “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” are up for the Oscar this year, along with “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” “Mary Poppins [...]

  • WGA Writers Contract Talks

    Talent Agents, WGA Achieve Progress in Second Round of Talks

    Hollywood talent agents and the Writers Guild of America have achieved some progress at their second negotiating session over agency regulations, according to sources close to the talks. The two sides met Tuesday, two weeks after their first meeting resulted in both sides criticizing each other, followed by the WGA holding a trio of spirited [...]

  • Aaron Paul

    Film News Roundup: Aaron Paul Honored by Sun Valley Film Festival

    In today’s film news roundup, Aaron Paul is honored, Bruce Berman is re-upped at Village Roadshow, and Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher get a book deal. FESTIVAL HONORS The Sun Valley Film Festival has selected Idaho native and three-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul as the winner of its Pioneer Award, presented by Variety for his [...]

  • Olivia Munn]EMILY'S List Pre-Oscars Brunch, Inside,

    Olivia Munn Says Brett Ratner Called Her Before His 'Howard Stern' Apology

    Olivia Munn is setting the record straight about standing up to “Rush Hour” director Brett Ratner, whom she alleges sexually harassed her over a decade ago. During a panel discussion at the Emily’s List pre-Oscars brunch at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills Tuesday morning, Munn revealed that Ratner called her in 2011 after he denied [...]

  • Flesh Out review

    Berlin Film Review: 'Flesh Out'

    Ignore the awful English-language title: “Flesh Out” is an emotionally rich, sensitively made film about a young woman in Mauritania forced to gain weight in order to conform to traditional concepts of well-rounded beauty before her impending marriage. Strikingly registering the sensations of a protagonist living between the dutiful traditions of her class and the [...]

  • Marighella review

    Berlin Film Review: 'Marighella'

    Does Brazil need a film that openly advocates armed confrontation against its far-right government? That’s the first question that needs to be asked when discussing “Marighella,” actor Wagner Moura’s directorial debut focused on the final year in the life of left-wing insurrectionist Carlos Marighella during Brazil’s ruthless military dictatorship. For whatever one might think of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content