Mia Hansen-Løve's Eden, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, could be the perfect film for fans of mumblecore and French New Wave. Eden will fulfill the fanciful whims and defeats of every twenty-something whose anchor to reality won't let them fully live out their escapism.
Despite being a great for these niche audiences, Eden somehow falls short of its potential to please the masses, but that doesn't mean it's not worth watching. Where I found Eden lacking in its attempt to fit into two genres, it still finds a home in a third. Above all else, Eden is a torrid, illicit romance. A love story between Paul and his music.
The film opens in 1992, as protagonist Paul (Felix de Givry) begins to fall deeply in love with the genre. At first, like any new fling, the relationship is fresh and exciting. He enters a new scene, leaving his life of literature and academia on the back burners to pursue his passion.
Over the course of decades the relationship becomes toxic. He has to decide whether he wants to fight his way out, or truly lose himself to the music and let his obsession consume him entirely.
Unlike what you might expect from a movie about an addiction to a music scene it is about a downward spiral, but not in the traditional sense.
Instead of tracing Paul's descent, it's the world around him that changes while he remains stagnant. Like the mosquito trapped in amber in Jurassic Park, Paul is trapped. Like watching sand slipping through your fingertips, it conveys the passage of time in a very real and accessible way, almost to the point of being uncomfortable.
As a form of artful expression, Eden is fantastic. If Hansen-Løve's intent was to pass on this suffocating feeling, she was extremely successful. But for creating a watchable movie, it fell short somewhere along the way.
Louise was played well by the astoundingly real Pauline Etienne. Like riding passenger in a car that you know is running out of gas, Louise is along for Paul's ride whether she likes it or not.
Unfortunately, Greta Gerwig's usual charm was lost in the role of Julia, and felt forced and stilted. Her character played an important secondary role in the film, but Gerwig didn't resonate as the force of beautiful chaos that fans are used to.
Daft Punk makes a number of cameos, adding a bit of levity in some darker, more serious moments. The musical duo acts as checkpoints along Paul's journey through life.
In a world where your eyes are blinded by fluorescent lights in a sea of fog, and a bass-driven heartbeat gives you a new sense of life, Eden shocks you with the harsh reality of what it's like being hypnotized from the other side of the DJ booth.