Monday, September 22, 2014

Film Review: Eden

After contributing in past years reviews of his favorite festival films (Burning Bush, A Werewolf Boy, Himizu), I'm happy to receive Oded Aronson back and to post his review of Mia Hansen-Løve's great new film Eden. - D.D.

Imagine that flashing lights surround you in a room full of people barely conscious of what   they’re doing, pounding music knocks away at your brain and you’re lifted into a world of oblivion, magic thumps of the bass, and the screaming, shouting joy of dancing until falling to the ground nearly unconscious, dreaming of the music while the lights swirl around in your brain and you feel as though you’re floating into another universe. This is the world that Paul (Félix de Givry) and Cyril (Roman Kilinka), two men who form the electronic dance music group Cheers, strive to enter every day of their lives. Ever since hearing electronic dance music for the first time, they have felt the enormity of the music, understanding its primal power, and have strived to be DJs. Several years later, they have formed their group, and are touring around the US, hoping to become major DJs known throughout the world. Two acquaintances of theirs will eventually become Daft Punk, who will achieve that kind of   worldwide fame. As for Cheers, the love of music keeps them going, hoping only to achieve the feeling of power through music, and transferring that power to those who will go to the clubs whenever they play. 

However, when the neon lights fade out and daytime begins, there is a certain sadness and   desperation. When these same people are living their lives in the real world, all that gets them through their days is counting down the hours and minutes until they can enter the clubs again. The thought of holding jobs, marrying and having children, and handling their own finances terrifies them. So it is that everybody in the club scene is simultaneously freed and trapped by their own love for it. In the midst of it all, everybody tries to make some kind of connection, preferably with other people who frequent nightclubs so that they have at least one thing in common. Even if two people find each other amidst the chaos, there is no guarantee that they will actually like each other as people, or that their relationships will last. Still, people keep trying so that they don’t have to live alone. Many people go through relationship after relationship to such an extent that after a while they don’t even remember each other, or at least pretend not to remember so that they can live their lives without yet another thing to sadden them. 

Eden by Mia Hansen-Løve explicates the thoughts and feelings of people who live in the universe of clubs. Thoughtful, emotional and engaging insights about life and death fill every frame, and the actors play their roles in a brave, unflinching way, willing to embrace and illustrate both the likeable   and unlikeable elements of their characters. And then, of course, there’s the music. The original sets   by Cheers encapsulate the feeling that all DJs strive for; the excitement of the rhythm and the power   that leads to dancing. The joys and difficulties Cheers experiences in trying to secure live singers for their gigs ring true to life; anyone who has ever had to deal with real life talent could relate to the issues that Cheers experiences while trying to ensure the comfort and cooperation of one particular bullying diva. Of course, not all the talent is as unsavory; the joys of love, life and music are a major part of the lives of many characters the protagonists come across.  

The adventures of the characters when outside clubs are just as absorbing, but in a completely   different way. We can all identify with the struggle for people to make something of themselves, to   find someone they love who also loves them, and to deal with parents or other important figures who   fail to either understand or attempt to understand what gives them a reason to live. Eden is more than the story of what happens within nightclubs, or of only one particular genre of music; it is the story of anyone who has ever lived.

Oded Aronson

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