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AFI Fest 2014: ‘Eden’ - Film Review

Eden, premiering November 7th at AFI Fest 2014, isn’t so much a film as it is a journey. It doesn’t exactly have an arc, nor does it flow the way we generally expect films to flow. It’s a French film, with a different focus and a different feel than American films generally have. We watch the story unfold through a series of stops on the journey—fragments and increments that might not have a traditional Hollywood structure, but in the end, tell us everything we need to know.

Set around the Parisian electronic music scene, beginning in the early-to-mid '90s, we follow a young man named Paul (Félix de Givry) and his friends as they strive to make a name for themselves doing the music that they love. We begin in 1993, as a teenaged Paul is just discovering this entrancing music style and beginning to think, “Maybe I should become a DJ.” Skip ahead two years, and he and his best friend have formed an electronic music duo, calling themselves “Cheers.” Skip two more years, and the two are beginning to develop a following, masters and innovators in the subgenre of Garage Music. Along the way, they cross paths with another rising duo called Respect and begin to take their journey together.

We continue skipping forward in time, generally in two year increments. Cheers becomes increasingly acclaimed, playing with some of the best people in the business and even travelling to New York for a prestigious show. For a while, every time we join them again, they’re more popular, more in demand . . . and yet, they can never seem to make any money at their craft. For one thing, the overhead costs for electronic music are pretty high. For another thing, their love of what they do and for their fans makes them rather more generous than they should be in terms of charging for their shows. And, whatever money they do make tends to go straight up Paul’s nose in the form of a rather staggering cocaine habit.

This is rather an unusual film, and probably not everyone will like it. As I mentioned before, it’s less of a traditional story arc and more a series of snapshots, spread over the course of about 20 years. Paul does have something of a character arc in that time, but it’s not as defined as American audiences are used to. There’s no big climax where everything comes down to a single event or decision. Even the major, life-altering events in the lives of these men are fairly quiet and understated. By the end, some audience members may be left scratching their heads, wondering what they’ve just seen, or what the point of it all was.

The story may feel disjointed in parts and a bit meandering in others, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to a flaw in the movie. It was designed that way on purpose. Once you embrace that, it’s actually quite an enjoyable film. Under the direction of Mia Hansen-Løve, Eden has a unique and appealing visual style, as well as, of course, a great soundtrack (if you’re into the electronic genre), which come together to create a vibrant and dynamic world. Through the series of snapshots, we get to see that world that Paul and his friends have become so immersed in, and how it evolves over time—and how they evolve as a result of that. If you’re a fan of the electronic genre or if a glimpse inside the electronic scene and its inner workings sounds at all appealing, then you’ll definitely want to check out Eden.

Eden plays at the AFI Fest 2014 on November 7th at 9:15 p.m. and November 9th at 9:30 p.m.

Last modified on Friday, 28 December 2018 19:23

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