'French Touch' is a style of dance music that grew up in Paris in the late nineties, fusing American garage with funk and soul music. The scene that grew around French Touch gave birth to some of the most renowned pop artists in the world, including the likes of Daft Punk, Justice and Air.
French director Mia Hansen-Løve's new film Eden concerns the progress of a much less familiar name: a fictional DJ named Paul (Felix De Givry) who, despite his presence at the scene's genesis never achieved comparable success.
In Eden, the film starts at a party in an abandoned submarine somewhere in Paris, at which Paul is DJ-ing. From an obscure artist on an underground scene, Paul's career gathers pace and in its wake come a rag tag group of followers. Indeed, one of the notable aspects of this film is its array of characters which, like the clientèle of a club, is sprawling and diverse.
A notable member of Paul's entourage is the American ex-pat Julia, played by the mumble core stalwart Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha) with whom Paul has a relationship. Gradually, however, his career tails off, his friends loose faith in him and the style of his music stagnates.
Eden movie review
In this respect, Eden differs from a lot of music films: its lead character doesn't follow a rapid rise and fall trajectory – in fact he rises only a little, and falls just a bit. It's a film about deflation, boredom, and the slow burn of disappointment. It's title, in this respect, is more than a little ironic.
That's not to say that it's not a lively film. After Eden's premiere screening at the Toronto Film Festival, the film received plaudits for the quality of its evocation of the Paris scene in the '90s, with its Dionysian clubs and vibrant social scene, not to mention the drugs.
The world of dance music is something that cinema rarely does well, unable to reconcile the dizzying whirl and vibrancy of the scene with the demand placed on all commercial cinema to produce a disciplined and coherent narrative. But Eden doesn't approach this world as most films do – it doesn't glorify it or overstate its glamour, rather it focuses on the mundanity that simmers away beneath its surface and in so doing creates what seems like a much truer, more authentic portrait.
This being said, the film has an overriding bleakness that leaves it hinging its character, its ode, around the music scene, and at times feels that this is at the sacrifice of an empathetic lead. De Givry's performance does, like his musical career, stagnate, and one starts to resent – like Paul's numerous girlfriends – his inability to adapt to his surroundings.
Whilst the film's weightiness means it's not necessarily an enjoyable watch, movie buffs and music lovers alike will appreciate the film's unique depiction of art outside the limelight.
|What||Eden film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
24 Jul 15 – 31 Aug 15, 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
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