“Eden,” a long but lovely story, spins through 20 years in the life of Paul, a French garage DJ whose career is going nowhere slowly. He’s doing what he wants to do, even as life passes him by.
Director Mai Hansen-Love captures the Paris rave scene in all its underground glory, constructing party scenes that burst with energy and authenticity. It’s this vivid world that hooks Paul, who chases music as a career despite his promise as a literature student. (His skeptical mother refers to his mixing job as a DG.)
Paul achieves reasonable success — scoring gigs, taking tours — and then, well, he just remains a struggling artist. In time, his various girlfriends move on, his drug problems get worse, his debts mount, and the music scene changes. By age 34, Paul is a dinosaur.
Hansen-Love, however, is careful not to paint Paul (Felix de Givry, very good) as pathetic; he clearly has some growing up to do, but his artistic endeavors are pure. His stagnation is both wistful and, in its own way, inspiring.
“Eden” is a decent film with a poetic ending, but it could have been a very good film with some judicious editing and more character development. The party scenes, as well shot as they are, drag on, particularly in the last hour, when the only point seems to be showing the monotony of Paul’s work. This film could easily have been 30 minutes shorter.
Hansen-Love also keeps most of her characters at an emotional distance, save for Pauline Etienne (excellent), who plays Paul’s feisty girlfriend, Louise. It’s no coincidence that the scenes between Paul and Louise are the best in the movie: their first meeting at a club, a sidewalk fight in New York, a devastating encounter at a park.
This is a movie about the DJ scene, but the most memorable moments occur when the music has stopped.