DIR: Mia Hansen-Løve • WRI: Mia Hansen-Løve, Sven Hansen-Løve• PRO: Patrick Andre, Nathalie Dennes, Charles Gillibert, Jimmy Price • ED: Marion Monnier • CAST: Félix de Givry, Pauline Etienne, Vincent Macaigne, Hugo Conzelmann, Roman Kolinka
At first glance, this film almost appears to be a French, slightly more pretentious version of Justin Kerrigan’s 1999 iconic Human Traffic. It too is the story of a group of young people, looking for fame, drugs, fun and love with all the usual nuances and issues that hedonistic youths possess.
However, the similarities end there. Eden is a definitive examination of the underground dance music scene in Paris from the early nineties right up to present day. It portrays the true life story of main character Paul Valleè (Félix de Givry) his friends, and his many, many lovers. Simultaneously, director Mia Hansen-Løve maps the journey of electronic music. From the nineties’ raw, original beats in warehouses to present day, with its commercialised, non-descript DJs playing in grandiose nightclubs, Eden depicts how the entire ethos of electronica has transformed.
This rise and fall of house music coincides with the turbulent private life of Valleè. He is a struggling DJ, as part of house/garage duo Cheers. Throughout the film there is a sense that this pair of incredibly talented DJs and producers seem to keep missing their big break. This is caused by a mixture of bad timing, drugs and ego. Their counterparts Daft Punk start off in a similar position. Both collectives appear to be on a par creatively, but Daft Punk rise above the underground, and become mainstream and one of the most highly successful electronic acts ever. So there are pangs of pity, but this is overcome by feelings of anger towards some of the characters, as they seem to destroy themselves.
For the most part, Eden is quite predictable, and definitely geared towards those with an interest in electronic music. However, Valleè and his friend’s characters are authentic and believable. As the film is based on a true story, it is quite easy to relate to them. For instance, pretentious tragic artist Cyril (Roman Kolinka) and clingy-at-first girlfriend Louise (Pauline Etienne) are two of the most distinctively relatable of the bunch. Their chaotic lives filled with highs and lows are not only synonymous with the nineties, but indeed any era for those who love to party, and who appreciate electronica.
The focus of the film is almost entirely on Vallèe, which inevitably means delving into his own private life. Perhaps if it focussed less on his womanising, drug use and selfishness, and more on his music (which was fantastic) it would have been slightly more enjoyable. He is at times, extremely dislikeable, which surprisingly doesn’t take away from his talent. This is true of many talented people, and his ego almost certainly is the cause of his downfall.
The fantastic soundtrack, and occasional laugh are the two best aspects of this film. For anyone who enjoys nineties electronica (mainly house) and hates what it has become, this is a must see. It is also an insight into the French take on the nineties. The stark contrast between then and now left me feeling nostalgic, and jealous that I wasn’t there. I searched for the soundtrack straight away and was delighted to discover it contains some extremely famous tracks, but also some that may have gone un-noticed before. And then throw in some classics from over twenty years ago, and you have yourself a perfect soundtrack.
I left this film feeling quite energised. But this was 90% to do with the music. I cannot emphasise this enough. Go and see Eden if you want to take a trip (excuse the pun) down memory lane, but expect the expected and don’t count on anything out of the ordinary from the film itself.
15A (See IFCO for details)