Rarely have the ups and downs of life felt so real on screen as in this movie set in Paris's electro scene.
June 26, 2015
That feeling you get on the dance floor, not just of ecstasy, excitement and exuberance, but of knowing that such a moment is special because it is fleeting: imagine that turned into a film. That's what writer/director Mia Hansen-Løve and her co-scribe brother, actual former DJ Sven Hansen-Løve, have done as they wander through the Parisian electronic music scene.
Calling their movie Eden is apt, because someone in their sights is always in search of perfection. Most often it's Paul (Félix de Givry), a literature student determined to make a living making music and spinning tunes. Sometimes it's one of his friends, such as his club DJ partner Stan (Hugo Conzelmann), or Showgirls fan Arnaud (Vincent Macaigne), or comic book artist Cyril (Roman Kolinka). Every now and then, it's Thomas Bangalter (Vincent Lacoste) and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo (Arnaud Azoulay) — also known to the world as Daft Punk.
Yes, the real-life history of everyone's favourite French electro duo is weaved into the film, and though they're not the stars of the show, their presence — and their catalogue of songs — is more than just a gimmick. It's an indicator of just how great Eden's soundtrack is, of course, if house and garage are your style of music. It's also a yardstick, showing what success in the scene means, and just how far the others have to go to achieve their dreams.
Indeed, trying and not quite succeeding is what the feature is all about, capturing the gap between wanting to devote your time to doing what you love and realising that your desires just aren't going to come to fruition. Jumping between points across 21 years from 1992 onwards, that's the path that Paul's life follows. At venue after venue, he chases what he hopes will be a blossoming career. He's up all night to get lucky, and his aims never change, even as he gets older, watches those around him both grow and give up, and cycles through different girlfriends (including the ever-luminous Greta Gerwig and the bewitching Golshifteh Farahani).
Exquisite actresses excluded, it all sounds a tad depressing; however, Eden remains playful and hopeful as it charts Paul's journey. Though the Hansen-Løve siblings never shy away from heartbreak and hardship in their narrative, it's hard not to get swept up in a euphoric mood when the sound of pulsating beats and the sight of dancing bodies are so common. There more than anywhere, the movie apes its characters. In the story, the power of music and movement just can't be shaken. Watching the film evokes the same reaction.
Making Eden look like hazy memories of late nights, smoky clubs and early mornings only furthers that feeling, with Mia Hansen-Løve proving that the style of her previous two features, Father of My Children and Goodbye, First Love, wasn't a fluke. Nor was the authenticity of the latter, another semi-autobiographical effort. That's what shines here: the lived-in texture and the insider's perspective. Rarely have the ups and downs of life felt so real on screen, whether you've been there and done that, or can just relate to the blissful momentary reprieve from lacklustre normality found in great song and on a darkened dance floor.