Eden: a tribute to electronic music – the ‘French touch’ – and a perceptive, sensitive depiction of following a dream through the ‘90s Paris club scene.
Mia Hansen-Løve’s Eden takes us on a pretty lengthy journey, down a path less travelled by – at least in film – and provides an unexpectedly honest insight into the rave scene. It’s exciting to begin with – wide-eyed teenagers, illicit raves, throbbing clubs, music-fuelled euphoria and pill-induced ecstasy. It’s immersive. But, like any high, it doesn’t last.
Hansen-Løve co-wrote the script with her DJ brother, Sven, drawing on their experiences of the scene, so there’s undoubtedly some truth here. She makes a point about the importance of music – the soundtrack features more than 40 tunes from the era– and Paul, (Félix de Givry) the lead, is passionate about his music, persisting with it for more than two decades. This is not a rise-and-fall story though.
Paul never experiences more than mediocre success. He borrows well into adulthood from his mother and the bank to feed his cocaine habit. Along his way he accumulates a hotchpotch of friends, followers and to-be-former girlfriends. They come and go from his life – they change and move on while he remains at a standstill. Greta Gerwig puts in a short but important appearance as an American girlfriend. He reencounters her years later; “it’s crazy that you haven’t changed,” she tells him.
The descent is gradual, painfully so. Eden spans almost 20 years and at two and a half hours it feels it. It follows Paul and his litter of friends and partners through the ordinary, the mundane and the repetitive. But if there’s a middle and an end you’d be pressed to pinpoint them. And a conclusion? Forget about it. This is not a flaw but the entire point. C’est la vie.
Life slowly chips away at Paul: his friends and lovers move on, his success dwindles and his dependency increases. You might find yourself shifting in your seat, wondering when and how it’s going to end. But you also might just find yourself reflecting on it for some time afterwards.
At select cinemas. Check local listings.
Lead image courtesy Palace Films