Wesley Emblidge ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Executive Editor
If anything’s clear about director Mia Hansen-Løve after her last two films, it’s that she has a complete mastery of conveying the passage of time and the effect it has on her characters. Her excellent 2012 coming of age story Goodbye First Love charted nearly a decade in a young woman’s life, from high school on. Her latest Eden ups the stakes, covering over two decades of the rise of electronic “house music” in Paris.
When we first meet aspiring DJ Paul (Félix de Givry) it’s 1992 and he’s barely 20, still in college, just getting into the scene and getting hooked on cocaine. Hansen-Løve wrote with her brother Sven, whose life the film is loosely based on, and follows Paul and other members of the scene (including Daft Punk, whose music is throughout the film) as their genre takes off and eventually becomes popularized as Paul loses his way. Also tracked are his various girlfriends (Greta Gerwig, Pauline Etienne and Golshifteh Farahani) and how their lives progress with and after him. Her films aren’t shot over 12 years like Boyhood but the characters age just as believably, even through simple things like changing facial hair and hairstyles.
Ultimately though, Paul’s group Cheers doesn’t hit it big like Daft Punk, he doesn’t hit it big, and his career peak comes very early. Eden ends up being about being part of a movement but falling off from the center, and where Paul ends up at the end isn’t remotely what he dreamed of when he was younger. That helps to set it apart from the normal contrived, templated musician biopics; films about failure are less common but usually more interesting and relatable.
Though at times Eden feels like maybe it casts its net too wide (a version that just focused on Paul would run much shorter) it’s hard to complain about luxuriating for a while in the environments Hansen-Løve conjures up with cinematographer Denis Lenoir and some really great selections of music from the period.
Overall Grade: B+
The Independent Film Festival of Boston runs through April 29th. Visit iffboston.org for more information.