The film Eden isn’t exactly paradisiacal for many viewers. This can be attributed to one main reason: on the whole, Mia Hansen-Løve’s movie is a celebration of a failure.
Never mind that the film is based on the real story of her brother Sven and his attempt to make it as a DJ. One imagines that Sven was a tad more successful than Paul Vallée played by Félix de Givry. In many ways, Paul is the passive vessel of the real action of the film.
The underlying themes in Eden are that of change, and of the times changing without us realizing them. Interestingly, Hansen-Løve marks the passing of time, but subtly, and Paul and his coterie seem to remain stuck in a time and a place, (definitely at night).
Yet the world around them changes rapidly, especially the intricacies of the nightclubs, (lists are replaced with iPads), the DJ equipment, (turntables becoming MacBooks), and even the music itself. Paul’s preferred style of Garage giving way to more mainstream House and hinting at the upcoming revolution of EDM, of which Paul seems to just miss).
Perhaps what is most interesting about Eden is that Hansen-Løve is never outright dismissive of Paul and his dream to “make it” as a DJ, (and to bed and discard an alarming number of women along the way, save for the one that got away).
After all, the writer-director seems to suggest, the members of Daft Punk, (or at least the actors that are playing them), are two schlubby guys that can barely get noticed without their helmets on. What is to say that they are so different than Paul, who plays his heart out, but is perhaps just more lacking in self-awareness? Or perhaps that the reason for failure is that the career of a DJ is (or at least was) a difficult pursuit, and just because Paul has the passion does not mean that he has the discipline. Or perhaps the industry is fickle and that the stars of Garage are not the most talented ones, but those lucky enough to catch a break, at the right place and the right time.
Of course, we would be remiss if we did not mention some scene-stealing performances, from Greta Gerwig as Paul’s American girlfriend Julia, (again, he does play the field, though their scenes appear doomed for the start), the ubiquitous Brady Corbet as Larry, but perhaps most surprisingly, Arsinée Khanjian, as Paul’s nameless mother, who in between puffs of a cigarette shakes her head at her wayward son.
Paul may be have been trying to make it as part of a duo called Cheers, playing Garage music, (a mix of House and Disco), but the real Cheers go to Hansen-Løve, willing to mine her own family history in a mix of fact and fiction to create the film. Though it may be polarizing, there is just the right measure of hope to suggest that Eden may yet be able to be captured.