Today: April 19, 2024

Eden

Eden is Mia Hansen-Love’s elegant eulogy to youth and the power of dreams.

In ’90s Paris, House and Garage are at the centre of a vibrant, new rave scene. Entranced by the music, Paul and his best friend create a DJ duo called ‘Cheers’ who rapidly find an audience.

However, those who have applauded Hansen-Løve’s previous films, All Is Forgiven (2007), Father Of My Children (2009), and Goodbye First Love (2011), will know that her narratives rarely offer something as everyday or as tidy as a beginning, middle and end. Instead, the focus is on her characters’ unspoken tensions and desires – the distance between what they are thinking and doing, wanting and achieving.

While on the surface, Paul quickly wins himself a dream life of perpetual partying, his is a gilded cage. Time passes, scenes shift, friends and lovers move on, but Paul remains the same. Never ageing, never managing to quite escape from the Groundhog Day of unfocused, if hedonistic, drifting that has become his existence. There’s no progression, no fulfilment. Only the music.

Because let’s not forget that it’s the music – the joyous, upbeat sound of ‘French Touch’ electronica – that forms the beating heart of Hansen-Love’s film. Eden was co written by Mia’s brother, Sven, whose own experiences as a DJ laid the foundation for the character of Paul. And while the film is undoubtedly Sven’s story, it’s also a film about – and for – the rave generation. Beautifully realised, Eden is an unfettered slice of ‘90s clubland, recreated with an attention to detail and affection that only those who lived through it could have achieved.

“Rightly or wrongly” Hansen-Love has said, “I had the sense that the story of French Touch or, the world of French Touch, let’s say, was a way of capturing the specificity of our generation – that of the 1990s. Something was played out there that sums up that period perhaps better than any other cultural or political event. Sven often talks about the hedonism of his youth. Also sense a form of innocence, a very refreshing approach to life and the world … taking your childhood dreams seriously, deciding that life is about partying and pleasure … that sums up the futile yet fundamental urge of a whole generation. Which is no barrier, eventually, to a form of melancholy.”

Music and melancholy may make strange bedfellows but in Eden, music is the counterpoint keeping the film’s various melodies harmonious. A thoughtful film with a carefree soul is a hard trick to manage. But Mia Hansen-Love has managed it with aplomb.

 

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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