EDEN is a slow-moving movie which pace is thankfully greatly helped by the electronic dance soundtrack. It’s about the start of the French Touch, music from DJs who spun together house, disco, funk, indie and of course electronica. The music made Paris one of the heartbeats of dance music in the 1990s.
From the dialogue to the dancing, director Mia Hansen-Løve is going for the “au natural” feel, a bit like the Oscar-winning Boyhood. It gives Eden a documentary-like feeling, given the 20-odd year-long history it covers.
But there is drama in Eden, with believable acting. The editing is right on the beat, and underbeats, while the cinematography is mood-driven, appreciative of sunsets, and dark clubs
The film is broken into two parts. We are first introduced to the club scene of the early 90s, with the protagonist Paul Vallée (played by Félix de Givry) who sets off to become a garage music DJ. His mother is not thrilled, telling him to concentrate on his university studies in literature and writing.” “Some DJs make a lot of money,” Vallee replies.
Part Two is where we must put up with his sad reality. The party is over, and we are now left with lost dreams.
But not for Daft Punk, the French duo who made a comeback in 2013, in robot outfits, with Random Access Memories.
The soundtrack is gorgeous if you were ever in the clubs in the late 80s, and 90s. In Eden, you again relive MK’s The MKappela, Aly-Us’ Follow Me, and Masters At Work’s To Be In Love. There is also Daft Punk music including One More Time and Within from their 2013 Grammy-winning Random Acess Memories.
In the second part of Eden, Vallee finds his life going nowhere unlike his early vision. It’s the Noughties. Music tastes have changed and Vallee is left behind, stuck in his groove of music that sounds “hot but cold”, as he puts it earlier. As one club promoter tells him, people want David Guetta sounds, and more electronica.
It doesn’t help that his cocaine habit takes his money, too. Soon, he is reduced to DJing at weddings. Vallee, who doesn’t finish his degree in literature, is lost in this new era.
I would have liked a tighter storyline, instead of having to wonder about some parts. For example, how did Paul meet Louise and Margot exactly? And what happens with his last girlfriend, Jasmine? The ending is just too realistic — Vallee has lost his way and is lying on his bed, all alone, staring at nothing.
Vallee, that hero of 1992, now works at a service company, in 2013, and goes for writing night classes.
This is surely a cautionary tale of how to make it the music industry. It ain’t all sunshine and roses: it’s about luck too.
Eden is part of 14 films shown in conjunction with Le French Festival 2016 in Malaysia.