EDEN (France/IFI/131mins)
Directed byMia Hansen-Løve. Starring Félix de Givry, Pauline Etienne, Vincent Macaigne, Hugo Conzelmann, Zita Hanrot, Roman Kolinka, Hugo Bienvenu, Greta Gerwig and Brady Corbet.
THE PLOT: Mia Hansen-Løve’s film EDEN follows Parisian DJ Paul (Félix de Givry), as he spends 20 years trying to make a name for his DJ outfit Cheers, and goes through several relationships, battles with addiction and falls into debt.
THE VERDICT: EDEN is a strange sort of film, filled with decent garage and house music, but not much by way of a story, the film feels like a travelogue through Paul’s life and, as a character who doesn’t seem to learn anything until it is far too late in his life (and in the film), this leads to a musically grand but generally disappointing film.
The cast is made up of Félix de Givry, Pauline Etienne, Vincent Macaigne, Hugo Conzelmann, Zita Hanrot, Roman Kolinka and Hugo Bienvenu with cameo appearances from Greta Gerwig and Brady Corbet. As the film follows Paul – who does not go on much of an emotional journey – the rest of the characters flit in and out of the action, with little chance to develop the people they play into anything other than background players.
Mia Hansen-Løve and Sven Hansen-Løve’s story follows a man who tries to make it as big as his contemporaries Daft Punk – whose music is liberally used throughout the film – but instead descends into a life of drugs and debt. The script is thin, with many club scenes used to fill in the gaps and bridge the time between 1993 and 2013. This leaves the film feeling rather pointless, although there is an argument for the film being so thin since Paul has little meaning in his life. It may not be an accurate or particularly satisfying argument, however, as there seems little point in flashing the years on the screen and dragging the audience through yet another club scene.
As director, Mia Hansen-Løve keeps the pacing of the film at a steady crawl, but never seems compelled to make the characters anything other than superficial. Even as Paul periodically returns to his worried mother, he never seems to listen to anyone but himself. The look of the film is strong, however, and the music enjoyable, so this goes some way to making EDEN engaging, but with a running time of 131 minutes, capturing the feel of the club scene is one thing, but without a strong narrative the film feels drawn out and laboured.
In all, EDEN has a wonderful soundtrack, some strong stylistic choices and some fun club scenes, but the lack of a story and rounded characters means the film falls from being an exploration of struggle and failure into a journey through the life of a self absorbed DJ who seems to learn little through his life.
Review by Brogen Hayes

Review by Brogen Hayes
2.0Lacks a story
  • filmbuff2011

    Mia Hansen-Love’s new film Eden is a love song to a period still in recent memory. At 34, she’s old enough to remember the rave scene in the 1990s, which forms the backdrop to a story of a young man’s formative journey into adulthood. Starting out in the early 90s, teenager Paul (Felix de Givry) discovers the Parisian rave and dance scene. He becomes a DJ and discovers the new sound created by Daft Punk. He sets up a DJ collective, sharing his love of music with his friends and lovers, of which there are several over the course of the film, including Louise (Pauline Etienne) and Julia (Greta Gerwig). As the years pass though and the story moves into the Noughties, Paul faces into uncertainty over the direction of his life and the disappointment of his mother (Arsinee Khanjian), who wanted so much more for him. Even if Paul has a soundtrack to his life, music isn’t everything. There’s more to life than music… or is there? Eden is a film that very much captures a time and period, so it will relate more to people in their 30s like Hansen-Love. If it had focused solely on the 1990s dance scene, then it would be a more successful film. By shifting the time period every half an hour or so, the story becomes fragmented and loses focus. While Paul remains the focus, there’s not much in the way of character development to him. The film’s only really character-defining moment comes when Louise, now Paul’s ex, drops a bombshell from the past on him. There’s also no sense of time actually passing – the characters look pretty much the same across the over-stretched 20-year span of the story (aging make-up must have been beyond the budget). The music of the period, featuring the likes Daft Punk and Orb, is a character in itself and provides a colourful and rhythmic backdrop. De Givry gives a good performance throughout and Gerwig does a lot with her too few scenes. But that’s not enough to save a film that doesn’t really have much to say. If it has anything to say, it’s that the 1990s were a nostalgic period for the director. Whether you want to share her trip down memory lane is up to you, but you might find it a rather pointless one like this reviewer. **