Eden

****

Reviewed by: Anne-Katrin Titze

Eden will close the D'A Festival
"Hansen-Løve's momentary excursions into animation, split screen, and possibly re-writing of world history are the most effective parts."

Mia Hansen-Løve's Eden, co-written with her brother Sven Hansen-Løve, is based on 20 years of his life as a DJ of electronic music, during the heyday of French Touch. While it is as personal as her previous film Goodbye First Love, the rhythm of Eden is structured by the music. Authenticity remains key, which does not necessarily mean naturalism. Hansen-Løve's momentary excursions into animation, split screen, and possibly re-writing of world history are the most effective parts.

November 1992. A young man climbs on what looks like the top of a stranded submarine in a forest at night. There is music. He walks through the woods. A cartoon bird is flying above his head. He goes back to the submarine place. He wants to hear the flute in the club. There was a song he liked. Several more walk through the forest. They are not Zombies and they aren't Truffaut's book people from Fahrenheit 451.

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Paul (Félix de Givry), our hero, has just discovered a world he loves. Rave parties, drugs, friendships, and a blossoming following in his career as a DJ give him confidence. Eye to eye and ear to ear with Daft Punk, he floats through Paris without a care about finances or stable relationships. Not until his American girlfriend Julia (Greta Gerwig) tells him that she is returning home to New York. "Nobody lives there anymore," he protests for her to stay. She is a writer with re-writes as her specialty. Her "story of the girl who wraps everything in plastic," started out as a novel and will probably "end up as a title," she says to Paul.

Her goodbye note is read effectively in split screen - Paul, seen heartbroken with the letter on the left and Gerwig's face talking straight to the camera on the right. "So long, my little Frenchman - Love, Julia."

Paul's garage music act, anchored between euphoria and melancholia, evolves as we march onward through the Nineties with him. He and his pals dance and laugh, have oysters, pigs' feet and cocaine, and fight about the merit of Paul Verhoeven's Showgirls.

His single-parent mother (Arsinée Khanjian) starts off affectionately out-of-touch with his world. She asks if he read the article about "neurons fried by ecstasy" in Le Monde and speaks of DGs instead of DJs as she helps to finance him into his 30s. Paul's artist friend Cyril (Roman Kolinka) can't deal with life at all and Margot (Laura Smet), the party girl who claims to be friends with Leonardo DiCaprio, tells stories of napping in a coffin. Drugs are talked about as something that got out of hand in Eden, yet Hansen-Løve doesn't go anywhere near the struggle it takes to overcome addiction. That would mean talking about the fall from grace.

Pixie-haired Louise (Pauline Etienne) is Paul's adoring girlfriend of the moment. She comes with him and his crew to New York to DJ big summer parties at MoMA PS1 in Queens.

The America trip is a careful visual construct by Hansen-Løve. Over the bridges and rooftops, we never get to see the skyline of downtown Manhattan. Last we got a notation of a date on the screen, it was 2001. The day in September that changed the world does not enter the universe of Eden. Instead, Paul visits his old flame Julia, whose life has changed and now includes husband Larry (Brady Corbet) and a drastically shrunken Prada sweater.

Who cares about the world when you can build your own? This biopic of a music movement does not signal the decline and fall of French civilisation.

Reviewed on: 29 Sep 2014
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Paul is taking his first steps as a DJ in the world of French house music.
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