Review: “EDEN” @ Tower Theater
June 25, 2015
Many of you may know us for our strong foundation in music (the word itself being in our company name), and not in any way particularly associated with a passion for film, but when those two expressive worlds collide, we can’t help but collectively breathe a sigh of relief in our unadulterated giddiness. When I found out a film about 90s French garage would be released, my feelings fluctuated on the edge of excitement and reluctancy. When dealing with music as a subject, movies all too often bulldoze over significant details in time, choosing crowd-pleasing entertainment over historical accuracy. It’s a big shame, really.
The thing about EDM (the genre already being far too general for the many outlets it entails) is that it is the most saturated pool of music, more so than any other genre, in my opinion. Like unwanted pimples after a day at the beach, there’s a new sub-genre popping up by the second. So when we say things like “deep house” or “tropical disco” what sounds are we really talking about? And where did they come from? That’s where Mia Hansen-Løve’s EDEN comes in. The ingenuous knowledge that only comes with real-life experience oozes out of the film like a portal through time, carried only by sounds of the past that still resonate in the present.
Albeit a bit gimmicky in some club/DJing scenes, and with a script that could have used a little more meat in several of the plot twists, I’d say EDEN is well underway to becoming one of the most musically educational films in the electronic field to date. Does the film have whirlwinds of cocaine-induced montages and crowds of ravers lost in music? Yes. Does our main character leave responsible priorities aside, like a Master’s thesis in the dust? You got it. Is he dragged deeper and deeper into the endless well of debt with every performance? Right again. They may be common tales, but these archetypes are there for a reason–socially induced collateral damage in the life of a young dreamer.
The film follows the life of a music aficionado named Paul (charmingly played by Félix de Givry) from the early 90s all the way through the modern era as he spreads his passion for garage, fighting the need to evolve and sticking to his guns until the very end. Failed relationships, the tragic suicide of a talented friend gone too soon, the embarrassment of asking your parents for money regardless of age, these emotional circumstances can never hold a candle to the love story between the ear and sound. Through the foundation of a music house and duo aptly named Cheers, tributes to landmark nightclubs and venues, classic radio shows and electronic comic books, Paul surrounds himself in creativity, never losing sight of his sonic vision.
EDEN‘s brightest moments burst through these inevitable scenes of climactic partying and cathartic downfalls, connecting them with the little pleasures that make the blur worthwhile. Conversations strung together by current favorite acts where friends not “in the know” are immediately called out, post-show criticisms dedicated to who killed and who bombed, excited moments where you meet your favorite producer face-to-face–these are scenarios we know all too well, and they gave EDEN the tangible gumption it needed to connect to its audience. You feel like you know each and every character in your own life, maybe even identifying with one yourself.
Of course, the name on everyone’s tongue is: Daft Punk. Yes, the masked duo does play a pivotal role in the film as Paul’s close friends who reach unsuspecting success only to maintain their persona as “Tom and Guy-Man”, even when refused entry into a club by an ignorant bouncer (“you FOOL!”). One of the most heart-warming scenes of the film goes down at a Halloween party where Daft Punk debuts “Da Funk” for the very first time to a crowd of partiers who suck the track dry. Their hands steady on the turntables, eyes perusing the audience nervously, they ask each other whether the track is going down well, and movie-watchers can’t help but smile at the irony. Hindsight 20/20 is a beauty sometimes.
Daft Punk’s presence in the film is great but, in my opinion, cannot compare to the all-star roster of pioneers who find their tunes blasted (and even share a few cameos) throughout the story: Larry Levan, Kerri Chandler, Frankie Knuckles, MK (Marc Kinchen), Krivit, Tony Humphries, and Nile Rogers to name a few. All of whom still have their musical crests hanging in the hall of electronic royalty. The universal language of music speaks to everyone, regardless of its time signatures–it calls upon every ear, even in a French film projected for an American audience. Whether you appreciate these incredible veterans, or the anthropomorphic adjective given to describe different beats, the film knows where to send a nod the right way. And boy does it nod hard.
From the very first scene, we understand the power of music in its ability to sway emotions in any which direction. A likable sound pulls Paul from what would’ve otherwise been a bad trip, and his obsession with music becomes nearly as addictive as the drugs he so freely partakes in. As the times shift and fashions change, he is forced to make a powerful decision at the crossroads between a creative niche or pleasing the masses. Either way, you’ve liked Paul and his band of merry producers so long that you don’t mind which road he decides to travel down. The camera may be shaky, but the story is direct: time passes and music waits for no one.
If you have the chance to watch the film, do yourself a favor and go to class. But for now, tune into the soundtrack and witness the auditory progression for yourself here.