Written by Mia and Sven Hansen-Løve
Directed by Mia Hansen-Løve
Starring Félix de Givry
I could not help but think of Robert Altman’s masterpiece NASHVILLE while watching EDEN, the latest film from French director Mia Hansen-Løve. Like NASHVILLE, EDEN uses a particular genre of music as a backdrop for the goings-on of a series of characters. While Hansen-Løve’s electronica music is blasting, I remembered how the music in NASHVILLE left viewers with something to think about afterwards, and provided the heart of the film. It was the heart and soul of EDEN that I was looking for, and unfortunately I did not find it.
It is the early nineties, and electronic music is on the rise in Paris. Paul (Félix de Givry) is in his early twenties, and to great disappointment from his mother (Arsinée Khanjian), decides to pursue a career as a DJ. Paul and his best friend establish themselves as DJ duo “Cheers” and are quickly thrust into the French electronica elite. At first, Paul seems to have it all. He has a rotation of girlfriends (including Greta Gerwig’s Julia) and spins at the hottest clubs. Eventually, Paul’s success seems to plateau, while his colleagues like real-life duo Daft Punk, continue to thrive. Over the course of twenty years, Paul continues to DJ, yet never really gives it his all, making his repeated failure both inevitable and deserving.
Though the film takes place over twenty years, EDEN’s character appear to be ageless. We must assume that by the end of the film Paul is in his forties, yet there is no aging makeup applied to Givry, so he looks like his twenty-three year old self, with a new haircut of course. One could argue that this is because Paul fails to mature mentally over these twenty years, but that could just be an excuse for laziness.
Hansen-Løve was inspired by the life of her brother Sven, who shares a writing credit. Like Paul, Sven worked the Parisian electronica scene as a DJ for over twenty-years. Perhaps it is their connection to the lifestyle that prevented the siblings from injecting a strong fictional narrative to the story. Instead, the film seems to play out as a series of many unconnected moments that ultimately do not amount to much. Some of the sequences are great, but at times they appear to be randomly placed, and do not act to further the film’s ultimate message. Then again, there is not much of a message to convey. Paul puts in minimal effort, and therefore reaps very little. That’s about it. I cannot figure out why Hansen-Løve needed over two-hours to say this, but so be it.
Fans of electronic music will at least be entertained. The EDEN soundtrack uses over forty songs, which is greatly impressed. It just all sounded the same to me.