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June 7, 2016

Eden (2015)
Director: Mia Hansen-Løve
Actors: Félix de Givry, Hugo Conzelmann, Pauline Etienne

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Synopsis: Paul (Félix de Givry) is a teenager inspired to become a garage DJ in Paris during the early Nineties. He has a steady upward curve of success as both a DJ and producer throughout the decade and into the early Noughties, but a drug problem, poor financial management and even his own sly ageing process begin to sully the sheen of the music and its lifestyle.

Review: This attempt by Mia Hansen-Løve to dramatise a hitherto under-represented ‘story’ cinematically (dance music and its culture) is generally admirable and lucid, although it does devolve into the rote “rise and fall” structure familiar from the now well-worn musical biopic genre in its latter stages.

Eden‘s main strength is its ability to capture the sheer ragtag spirit of its DJs and to make that the trajectory of the story. There’s also plenty of the actual garage music to help aestheticise the film – including a particularly brilliant musical montage at the beginning of Part 2: 2003-06 which emblematises that era expertly. On reflection, an even more immersive aesthetic would have further helped the film appropriate the culture of its music rather than the increasingly conventional, soapy focus as the narrative progresses.

Hansen-Løve is clearly a very capable director – her film evidences a rich tapestry of sound and image, plus some impressive logistical planning. By its last third however, it feels ever-so-slightly hackneyed and Scorsese-infused, with Hansen-Løve playing on the predictable ‘fall’ of her main character and his general succumbing to the hedonism and seediness of the scene’s culture through numerous cavernous tracking shots of the clubs and their personnel (à la GoodfellasCasino and The Aviator.) Another minor faux pas is that from a technical perspective, some of the practices of the DJs in this film feel a little ropey and unconvincing. Usually, most DJs are quite circumspect, reserved and professional – a world away from the cliché of the attention-seeking, arm-waving, lary DJs that Hansen-Løve presents them as here. (June 2016)

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