In fact, Chazelle only directs the first two episodes of The Eddy – the driving force here is screenwriter and playwright Jack Thorne, who can boast credits on The Aeronauts and The Virtues in just the last year.
So while the frenetic portrait of a troupe of musicians in a Parisian jazz club sounds like some kind of dreamy and self-indulgent Chazelle joint, the execution, at once scattershot and sometimes superficial, proves itself to be the work of a much more diluted thought process.
Club owners Elliot (André Holland) and Farid (Tahar Rahim) jamming together
The story centres on Elliot Udo, played with brooding intensity by André Holland, who owns the club which gives the show its title. This isn’t strictly a story about showbusiness – there is little glitz and glamour to be found. Thorne, and initially Chazelle, are more interested in the shady corners, in what happens when your reputation runs away from you and too much attention can turn sour.
On paper, The Eddy ends up being some kind of mob drama, with violence, drugs, money dealings and betrayals. But in practice it’s a curious beast: each episode focuses on a different character orbiting Elliot – his daughter, Julie; the singer in the band and his on-off partner, Maja; his best friend’s wife, Amira, and so on – and yet the characterisation never feels rich enough, either of Elliot or of any of the others, to really create empathy.
This comes in part from the fact that dialogue is spoken in English, French and Arabic, with a peppering of Spanish and Polish as well. It’s not exactly confusing or unattractive, but it means that the viewer’s attention is further divided across every language, constantly adjusting to each new performance from the actor as they wrestle with words they are somewhat unfamiliar with.
Elliot with his estranged daughter, Julie (Amandla Stenberg)
The music itself is crooning and transporting, an effortless assembly to appreciate. But The Eddy concerns itself more with the dynamics between people, the unspoken disappointments and hidden betrayals, than their relationship to the art form.
Where Whiplash let the characters’ entire lives revolve around jazz, and La La Land used it as a defining tool to both kickstart and ultimately jeopardise a relationship, in The Eddy music is used as an illustrator, and a symptom of a dangerous situation, rather than a catalyst.
Not quite severe enough to earn the adrenaline of a mob movie, not entirely rich enough to survive as a passion project, The Eddy sits somewhere in the middle. Enjoy reliably emotive performances from Holland, and Amandla Stenberg as Julie, but ultimately hold tight for something more heartbreaking from Chazelle in a near or distant future.
|What||The Eddy, Netflix review|
08 May 20 – 08 May 21, ON NETFLIX
|Website||Click here for more information|