If you’re a big fan of garage and dance music, then you’re gonna love ‘Eden,’ a film about one of the pioneer DJ’s of the French underground dance music scene, with a great soundtrack. ★★★★
‘Eden’ is based on the true-life experiences of Director Mia Hansen-Løve’s brother (and co-writer) Sven, who was one of the pioneering DJ’s of this new wave of music in the 1990’s. It charts the story of Paul (Félix de Givry) who, with a few other friends, forms a DJ collective. ‘Eden’ follows the highs and lows of Paul’s career from 1992 to 2013, including his romances, meetings with high profile DJ’s and singers, and problems with drugs and money.
We meet Paul (and his friends) as teenagers in 1992, at a club, of course. In the background is a sampling remix of Minnie Riperton’s ‘Lovin You’ as part of the infectuous song ‘ A Huge Evergrown Pulsating Brain’ by The Orb. Paul is also smitten with Julia (Greta Gerwig), an American woman living in Paris. Paul knows that she will eventually go back to America, and when she does, he’s devastated. Fast forward to 1995 and Paul and his best friend Arnaud (Vincent Macaigne) have become a DJ duo, playing primarily garage music. It’s music that was first made popular at a gay club in New York called Paradise Garage by DJ legend Larry Levine back in the 1980’s. Paul and Arnaud christian their DJ name as Cheers and they play garage music with a Parisian twist. It’s high energy music, not quite house music; it’s style is euphoric and melancholic, and energetic. Meanwhile, Paul is also getting romantically involved with the diminutive Louise (Pauline Etienne). She’s tiny and cute and perky and is a perfect match for Paul, and she goes with him everywhere. Including, in 2001, when Cheers are invited to play at a huge venue in New York City, where he’s reunited with Julia, who is now pregnant and with another partner. But something about Paul’s meeting with Julia changes something within Louise, and she decides that she needs to lead her own life. Meanwhile, back in Paris, Cheers club looks to be very successful, but somehow Paul never seems to have any money. He borrows from friends, and also from his mother (Arsinée Khanjian), who also suspects that Paul is taking drugs. A couple years on their manager tells them that perhaps they need to change their style to keep up with the times. But will Paul and the rest of the Cheers team manage to do so, and to become at least financially successful and perhaps world reknown?
The soundtrack is the best thing about ‘Eden.’ If you are of a certain age, you will relish in hearing the tunes in this film take you back to your days in the clubs. It’s a soundtrack worth owning. 1993’s instrumental ‘Plastic Dreams’ by Jaydee, the first song played in the film, is a classic dance song. And it sets the music tone for the rest of the film. Club classics such as Frankie Knuckles’ ‘The Whistle Song,’ ‘Finally’ (Original Extended Mix) by Kings of Tomorrow, and the efferable 1991 smash hit ‘Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)’ by Crystal Waters, are music highpoints in the film. The film itself, at 131 minutes, is a bit of a stretch in telling Paul’s story. Of course, a lot of the focus is on the music, which it should be, and the entire cast are very good in their roles, all believable in living in the time in which the film takes place. The brother and sister script happens to be a bit thin, and when one of Paul’s friends commits suicide, we don’t really know why. But ‘Eden’ is all about the music. It’s a film that charts the history of garage music from the early 1990’s to 2008, and this it superbly does.
‘Eden’ is now available to buy on DVD.
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.