Eros (2004)

  • Year: 2004
  • Released: 03 Dec 2004
  • Country: United Kingdom, France, Italy, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, United States
  • Adwords: 1 win & 1 nomination
  • IMDb:
  • Rotten Tomatoes:
  • Metacritics:
  • Available in: 720p, 1080p, 720p
  • Language: Mandarin, English, Italian
  • MPA Rating: R
  • Genre: Drama, Romance
  • Runtime: 104 min
  • Writer: Kar-Wai Wong, Steven Soderbergh, Michelangelo Antonioni
  • Director: Michelangelo Antonioni, Steven Soderbergh, Kar-Wai Wong
  • Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Alan Arkin, Gong Li
  • Keywords: anthology,
34% – Critics
45% – Audience

Eros Storyline

Three separate stories of love, desire and/or obsession are presented. “The Hand” tells of the desire that builds in the several years long largely professional relationship (his profession) between Xiao Zhang, the apprentice to tailor Mr. Jin, and Ms. Hua, a prostitute, the two who meet when he is first sent to take her measurements for a new dress. Sexually inexperienced, that meeting awakens Zhang’s sexual desires. The story takes place during a phase of Ms. Hua’s life when she becomes ill, making her unable to work and thus live to the style to which she is accustomed. In “Equilibrium”, Nick Penrose is having his first session with Dr. Pearl, a therapist, Nick’s anxiety and thus want to see a therapist probably due to a combination of starting a new project with his colleague Hal in their job as advertising executives, and a recurring dream he is having about a woman who he doesn’t know but knows in the dream, that woman who is not his wife, Cecelia. These issues may be at play but not quite in the way he expects as shown after this therapy session. And in “The Dangerous Thread of Things”, Christopher and Cloe are probably coming to the end of their relationship. They still seem to love each other but don’t seem to be able to be with each other in always arguing. Their relationship is affected by each individually encountering Linda, the girl who lives in the tower across the way from their house.

Eros Play trailer

Eros Photos

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Eros Movie Reviews

Almost what I expected- Antonioni’s segment was flawed, but not unbearable, and the other two segments worked wonderfully

It’s always a tricky thing to comment on these ‘omnibus’ films, where world-renown directors come together to make little films combined as one film. The two that are likely most well known to American audiences, of most recent as twenty years, are New York Stories (featuring Scorsese, Coppola, and Woody) and Four Rooms (Anders, Rockwell, Rodriguez, and Tarantino). None of those films are total masterpieces, due to the fact that there are always un-even bits by the filmmakers, even in the better segments. Eros is no exception, but I would argue that there has been some over-load of flack against the short co-written and directed by 90-something year-old Michelangelo Antonioni. His segment has been claimed by almost all the critics and reviewers (on this site and for the press) has been claimed as a waste of time, as total soft-core porn, the ideals of an old man wanting one last grip on his libido. I didn’t find his segment to be a waste, although it is one of his stranger, more enigmatic films in his sixty year career, and it isn’t as fascinating as it used to be.

The other two segments are little classics in and of themselves for the younger of the two filmmakers. Wong Kar Wai delivers a touching, sad romantic tale of a tailor’s apprentice who has a curiosity about a woman who does something erotic with him on a first visit (hence the title of the segment, The Hand, though it’s not as pat a term as might be imagined. The actors involved are all marvelous, and the style in how Kaw-Wai sets up his shots demands attention, despite it being unconventional. The acting is very natural, the music used comes in at just the right moments for emotional contact (you almost anticipate it, and when it comes, it’s powerful), and the ending wraps the story up rather fittingly. It goes to show that Kar-Wai might be the most skilled at making romantic-dramas in China, or at least is the most popular.

Steven Soderbergh, likely around the time he directed the slightly off-putting Ocean’s Twelve, concocted this sort of comedy of manners, as he says, “so I could have my name on a poster with Antonioni.” It stars Robert Downey Jr. and Alan Arkin as a salesman and a psychiatrist respectively, and Downey’s character is anxious about his job and, more importantly, about a woman in his dream. Arkin is hilarious in his role as a man who would much rather look out the window with binoculars at someone we do not see in the short. But his physical mannerisms, as Downey goes through his dream to confront himself (filmed in nice black and white, by the way), makes the scene all the more worthwhile. The last shots, jump cuts, of a paper airplane flying out the window are filmed with a fine touch of whimsy. There is also a solid, painterly use of blue in one particular part of the dream scene early on in the segment.

Then we come to Antonioni. First off, let one address the good qualities, or at least the fair, expectable qualities, that come with many of Antonioni’s films. In a sense, he’s hearkening back to his classic ‘trilogy’ (L’Aventurra, La Notte, The Eclipse), where a married couple is going through a crisis, and they spend a lot of time not saying anything to one another, and looking out at beautiful Italian landscapes and beaches. In a way, I almost wish this was a feature-length film as opposed to a more or less half hour short. I wanted to know more about these people, about what they do, or what they were doing or going to. But there seem to be two big flaws in the segment (the nudity didn’t bother me- there were actually a couple of memorable shots, one of which just a woman’s foot on a bed). One was with the music. Some have said that the film is Antonioni’s closest trip to soft-core porn. While I would class his directorial eye and style miles above anything on after-midnight Cinemax, the music by Enrica Antonioni and Vinicio Milani is a complete contrast of the music more associated with the director’s work, which is either spellbinding in it’s atmosphere, or haunting with the usage of rock and roll. Here he uses the music, electronic and with preposterous lyrics, in the more ‘erotic’ scenes. The other flaw is that, because of the film’s short length, there isn’t enough time as usual to build up the enigmatic stance of the story. The climax involves the two lead women (one the wife, the other the stranger adulteress) completely nude looking at each other on the beach. While it is interesting to have this image open for interpretation, it is also frustrating in ways that weren’t so in the endings to the other Antonioni ‘human mysteries’.

I understood some of the implications, but I didn’t get the sense of what was lost or what was gained or omitted like in the other two segments. Everything shot and acted looks sweet and tight and concentrated in the segment, still a technical pro, but what exactly is the point? Still, I would not have walked out during the middle of anything by Antonioni, and this, by default the weakest of the bunch, should be open to more interpretation than what Ebert described as “an embarrassment”. I felt the eye and mind of an artist working still during “The Dangerous Thread of Things”, and my only wish was that I could understand more than what I was seeing and experiencing. Perhaps his segment, like Kaw-Wai’s and Soderbergh’s, are left up to that interpretation for a purpose. I’ll likely want to see all three segments sometime in the future, and maybe get a better take on what eluded me or what enticed me. But, at the least, I didn’t leave the theater feeling entirely cheated.

Grade (averaged): B+

As separate films 2 out 3 ain’t bad, taken as a whole just an okay experience

This collection of three short films by three “world class” directors is a mixed bunch. With two interesting footnotes to the careers of their directors, while the final one is simply put one of the worst films ever made and nail in the coffin of its director’s career.

The first film is Wong Kar Wai’s The Hand. Its about a women and her tailor over the course of several years. Its about smoldering desire and the meaning of love/lust, and what we do for the objects of said desire. Its a very good film, but not really up to Wai’s best. It kept reminding me of In the Mood for Love.In some ways this maybe the best of the three, though I found I never really connected to it, even though I could relate to it. This is probably the only one that really belongs in a film called Eros.

Steven Soderbergh’s Equilibrium follows. Its a humorous look at a man who’s being haunted by a reoccurring dream. In desperation he goes to a shrink who helps him unlock the meaning of the dream. This is a pretty good sketch of a film that only falters at the conclusion. If you can forgive the poorly done ending you’ll come out of it amused.

The third film is by Michelangelo Antonioni. To say that this film is a complete waste of film is an understatement. Its the story of a couple who are fighting. The man has an affair and then the women meet. Its horrible, its pointless. Its pretentious. I can’t say enough bad about it. Its bad enough to force one to reconsider the over rated career of its director and to ask for his Oscar back. Its terrible but the only good thing about the movie is we get to see the two female stars sans clothes. This final piece is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen.

The last film aside, the real problem with this movie is that the three movies don’t really fit together. The tone and style of the various parts don’t blend together well enough to be one film. Unless you are going to stop between each film, the bleed over from each movie is going to effect the others. This isn’t bad, its just not the best way to view the two good films of the set.

Ultimately I’d say if you’re interested in any of the directors give it a shot, or more precisely the first two are worth renting or seeing on cable, while the final film should simply be burned. The films come off more as doodles than as fully fleshed out movies, but considering none is longer than 40 minutes thats okay. An interesting attempt.

The butterfly that turned back into a moth…

I haven’t yet seen the other two parts of this, but referring to the the Wong Kar-Wai section of this trilogy entitled “The Hand” I found an intriguing, if hardly original, story of an ageing high-class prostitute who captivates a young tailor whom she uses to make her increasingly expensive and glamorous dresses as she attempts to thwart the ageing process, as her clients gradually drift away leaving her facing ruin and acute loneliness. The story reminded me a little of Laclos’ “Les liaisons dangereuses” given it deals with manipulation and some predictable – with hindsight – turns of events. This is an emotionally charged tale with the audience certainly easily anticipating the outcome and feeling the whole gamut of pity, disgust and ultimately sadness for just about all concerned en route. The acting – especially from the two principals is poignant – evoking feelings of despair, affection and adulation as the story takes it’s inevitable course. It is shot beautifully too, so a big screen augments this production no end.