Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Review: Eden

World of Blackout Film Review

Eden Poster

Cert: 15 / 128 mins / Dir. Mia Hansen-Løve / Trailer
WoB Rating: 4/7

Now, I went into Eden with relatively little preparation (I'm not a devotee of French cinema, nor of house/garage music), and when I mentioned the film to my learned associates the day before, two of them (separately) said "oh, that's the film about Daft Punk, isn't it?". I'd seen Daft Punk's name mentioned in the trailer, but having watched the film I'm not sure where this idea is coming from on the promotional trail. Daft Punk (portrayed by actors) are in the film, but only turn up every now and then to remind the audience of how unsuccessful the film's protagonist still is. The film is only about them in the same way that Back To The Future is about a clock-tower; a means to an end, but not the thing you're watching. Just thought I'd mention that, anyway.

The hesitantly introspective film follows Paul, an aspiring DJ in Paris, taking a keen interest in the beginning of the garage-scene. Commencing from late 1992, we're shown a series of enumerated, extended vignettes, each spaced two-to-three years apart, before reaching 2001 when the on-screen title-card essentially informs us that the following six years won't be separated by the visual markers. Because of this erratic pacing, the film doesn't so much tell a fluid story as walk the audience through a photo album of Paul's momentum-starved career.

Getting down to business, there's some beautiful framing and lighting in Eden which is completely undermined by the hand-held camerawork. Director/co-writer Mia Hansen-Løve gets fantastic, natural performances from her cast, right up until the moment the dialogue switches into English (two or three times in the film), and then it's like being talked around a furniture showroom by Pinocchio. The American actress Greta Gerwig is particularly bad here, and while I've only seen a small section of her work, I know she's better than this. I get the feeling the problem could lie with a French film-maker directing English dialogue, but I also know that shouldn't matter (and credit where it's due, the poetry reading in the final segment is flawless).

Ultimately (and perhaps most problematically), I'd forgotten how boring dance music is if you're not a) making it, or b) in a club and off your face dancing to it. While I appreciate the skills involved, it seems (to me) to be an art-form to be enjoyed on a purely physical basis; the music's intricacies are subtle at best, repetitive at worst. In that regard particularly, Eden is a strikingly accurate representation of the genre.

Best line: "It's crazy that you haven't changed!" ~ Greta Gerwig's Julia referring, in the 2002 segment, to Paul's ever youthful appearance over the previous ten years; a phenomenon which the audience had already noticed applies not only to Paul, but also to the entire cast. Including Gerwig.

Pauline Etienne gets to change her hair style/colour; that's the passage of time, right there.

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
I'd say no, others would say I don't know what I'm talking about. Again.

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
Probably a rental/stream.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
Couldn't say as I've only seen one of the performers on-screen before, and she was terrible in this. The rest seem good, though.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Oh, I have no idea.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Probably not, but best not bring it up anyway, eh?

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There ain't.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
Eden features Greta Gerwig, who appeared in 2012's No Strings Attached, as did Natalie 'Padmé' Portman.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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