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France 2015
Directed by
Mia Hansen-Love
131 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1.5 stars


Based on the experiences of director Mia Hansen-Løve’s brother who co-wrote the script, Eden begins in Paris, 1992, and follows the story of two budding DJs, Paul (Félix de Givry) and Stan (Hugo Conzelmann), from then to the present day. The film chart their rise and fall, from being two passionate pioneers of the French rave scene to eventually finding themselves left in the wake of inevitably-changing music fashions.

Perhaps if you were a contemporary of the scene, particularly as large portions of the film are punctuated with the music of the time, Eden may have nostalgia value. But if you are not, as is the case for me, it all seems rather inconsequential. The only act that I could recognize was the French duo, Daft Punk. In comparison, the fact that Paul and Stan call their duo “Cheers” (after the American TV show) seems to sum up the terminal naffness of the lads' Euro-style pretension.

The film’s greatest potential is in its theme of youth’s surety that it will be “forever young”, that it can escape society’s strictures (represented by Paul’s emasculating mother, played by Arsinée Khanjian) and live for pleasure alone.  And so the story starts in youthful optimism and all night parties and a good time for all. But as the lads become more popular, the drugs take their toll and their debts mount, the dream unravels. Put simply, they grow older. 

Hansen-Løve does nothing particularly interesting with this material but rather simply unfolds it chronologically, the film shifting from banality to musical interlude and back to banality as key songs from the era (or so I assume) play either on the soundtrack or within the narrative itself as the director gives us long takes of arm-waving party-goers between routinely executed key events in Paul's life. There is, however, no excitement in the former, no drama in the latter.  

Eden does achieve a certain poignancy towards the end as Paul, reaping what he has sown, finds himself a washed-up irrelevancy, but that’s not enough to make the film engaging for those who bring nothing to it.

Available from: Madman




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