Thursday, 25 June 2015

EDEN - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Tedious look at life of Paris D.J. still oddly compelling.

Eden (2014)
Dir. Mia Hansen-Løve
Scr. Mia Hansen-Løve, Sven Hansen-Løve
Starring: Felix de Givry, Pauline Etienne, Greta Gerwig, Golshifteh Farahani,
Vincent Macaigne, Roman Kolinka, Hugo Conzelmann, Vincent Lacoste, Arnaud Azoulay, Arsinee Khanjian

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Whilst watching all 131 minutes of Eden, at least forty-one of them unnecessary, I kept asking myself if a rambling dramatic immersion into twenty years in the life and career of a D.J. was something I really needed to see. After it was over and done with, I had to grudgingly conclude that yes, it was.

In spite of its longueurs, the picture has so many evocative sequences which capture an indelible sense of time and place and yes, introduced me to a world I'd otherwise have had absolutely no interest in knowing anything about. Yeah, okay. I was glad I stuck with it. It's not a bad picture and I suspect that those who actually care anything about house music might even love it.

In a nutshell, it's the Inside Llewyn Davis of the dance club scene. Though that's a perfectly appropriate encapsulation of Eden, I hope nobody thinks I'm suggesting it's even a public hair as great as the Coen Brothers masterpiece. It's not. It barely registers half of a crab louse in those particular sweepstakes.

What we have is the not-so-inspiring story of Paul (Felix de Givry), a promising young literature student who should really be listening to Arsinee Khanjian who plays his continually disappointed and disapproving Mom. She keeps encouraging the lad to finish his thesis, especially since his academic advisor is so high on him. Alas, Paul is far too high on electronic music as well as the drugs and sex that go along with it, that he pretty much wastes two decades of his life instead of getting an early jump on his writing career. (Though at least he does garner enough life experience to actually write about something, no matter how empty it is.)

Ah, such is the folly of youth. Paul does, however, have one hell of a good time. He has several main squeezes (Pauline Etienne, Greta Gerwig, Golshifteh Farahani) amongst the bountiful pickings of babes in the dance club scene and he certainly creates some cool sounds in the Parisian garage tradition along the way, including a très cool tour of America.

Paul also has the fellowship of his best friends and collaborators: brooding visual artist Cyril (Roman Kolinka), the good-natured D.J. partner Stan (Hugo Conzelmann), the often hilarious Arnaud (Vincent Macaigne), a baby boomer club impresario who also has an obsessive penchant for Paul Verhoeven's Showgirls and, of course, Paul's friendly contemporaries in the scene, Thomas and Guy-Man (Vincent Lacoste, Arnaud Azoulay). The latter duo go on to stage their own music as Daft Punk, the brilliant pair of real-life music-makers who find the kind of world-wide fame which Paul gets brief tastes of, but never truly attains. The Daft Punk characters are also used to great effect in the film's one and only running gag (and a pretty funny one at that).

Eden often has a pleasing spirit of free-wheeling, not unlike some of director Hansen-Løve's French New Wave predecessors, but for every glorious dash through the streets of Paris and New York, every tumble in the sack with a bevy of babes, every snort of coke, as well as a myriad of party/club scenes, there are an equal number of them which feel like over-indulgent wheel-spinning. Clearly some of the elements of realism can be attributed to the screenplay co-written by the director's brother Sven Hansen-Løve, a former two-decades-long D.J. in real life.

Alas, so much of the film straggles about in a kind of self-importance within a musical, social and cultural scene that's notable only because it did (and continues to) inspire a generation of young people within a relatively slight blip on the overall radar of music history. The entire scene finally feels utterly inconsequential and the film makes virtually nothing of the political and historical backdrops which surely had some effect upon driving people into this world of thump-thumping partying.

Maybe ignoring the turbulence of the outside world is the point, but if so, it says a lot about the young people immersed in it and/or the missed opportunities for the film to have genuinely earned its 131-minute running time by scratching below the surface of its pseudo-neo-realist tendencies.

Personally, I've never been able to comprehend the "joys" of any club, bar, party, restaurant or celebratory event which played music so loud that one was forced to shout sweet nothings into people's ears. Some might argue it's all about the "physical" connection, but most of the denizens/fans of this crap are so hopped up on drugs, the only connections they're really making, are with dealers to buy more drugs.

Before you assume I'm some old grump, I can assure you my wayward youth was spent in many a punk, hard rock, heavy metal and jazz club, but between live sets, taped music was dialled down so one could actually converse with one's fellow party-hearty partners in crime. To me, house is like elevator music, only it splits your eardrums.

By the end of Eden and certainly in retrospect, all I kept/keep thinking about are the seemingly endless scenes in the movie of Paul's Mother forking over money into his empty, outstretched palms because he's unable to earn a proper living in his chosen art.

The real moral of the story is thus: Kids, listen to your Mothers, for Christ's Sake!

They're usually right.


Eden begins its theatrical release in Canada at the TIFF Bell LightBox via FilmsWeLike and will widen out across the rest of the country in specialty venues.