By Jake Howell

The Torontonian reviews Eden

Mia Hansen-Løve’s fourth feature Eden, like some of the dullest and least distinctive electro tracks, is repetitive, noisy, and plays far too long. If there is a selling point to this film, it’s because outlets like BuzzFeed describe it as “the movie for the DJs who never quite became Daft Punk,” where Daft Punk is this ever-growing, ever-present phantom of success in the Parisian EDM scene but still show up to nightclubs to support their contemporary DJs. Sure enough, the buzz at TIFF is that Eden is the “Daft Punk” movie. It’s admittedly reductive to call it the “Daft Punk” movie in queues as the shorthand reference to what the film is about; Hansen-Løve is a name I respect more than that. But after seeing the film, though, I realize it’s the only salient thing. Case in point: I’m listening to 2001’s “Discovery” as I write this, and it’s the silver lining of the experience.

Beginning in the 1990s and stretching across 131 minutes to the current day, the film follows the inception and years-later failure of “Cheers,” a garage-house DJ act that for whatever reason are unable to tap into the success and formula that Daft Punk are enjoying simultaneously. Félix de Givry plays Paul, the front man of Cheers, and he’s more or less a loser. He can’t reliably pay rent, he’s addicted to cocaine, and his taste in women is lamentable. Greta Gerwig is in this movie for all of ten minutes, playing Paul’s first girlfriend who moves from Paris back to New York to move on with her career. Years later when Paul sees her again, she’s pregnant, in a healthy relationship, and lives in an enviable apartment, underlining the fact that Paul simply can’t—and didn’t—win as a DJ. Sure, he gets gigs, makes music, and attempts to uphold the image (buying graphic t-shirts is more important than groceries), but at a certain point his career as a DJ is untenable.

Kind of like this movie. It’s not terrible, and the film is briefly interesting when we see people in the scene who know Daft Punk whisper about their success in that astounding way witnessing the growth of legends first-hand can bring. Yet Eden is split into two parts, likely because of the screenplay’s origin as two separate movies. But when the film’s decent opening half ends, we’ve had more than enough scenes of dancing in loud nightclubs, scenes of snorting cocaine, scenes of high-tempered affairs, scenes of Paul’s mother lecturing him about his career, etcetera. Nevertheless Hansen-Løve double-dips and subjects us to “Lost in Music,” essentially an extended remix of the opening section, but with an update on the people from the 1990s and what they’re doing in the 2000s and beyond. This unnecessary second part is far too long and did absolutely nothing for me, other than the fact that this timespan covers Daft Punk’s discography up to “Random Access Memories,” which gives Hansen-Løve the opportunity to use some of their best tracks in just the right moment. I haven’t seen a film where “Veridis Quo” feels so poignant and well-timed.

But that’s Daft Punk. Daft Punk is like maple syrup or peanut butter; their music pairs well with pretty much anything, and I can’t say much else about Eden’s fleeting moments of cinematic paradise if they’re all related to the songs I know and love. Paul’s story is a series of cyclical non-events, but I suppose his life is more compelling when “Within” plays overhead (“I am lost, I can’t even remember my name / I’ve been for some time looking for someone, I need to know now / Please tell me who I am”). Sure, it’s inherently neat to see a movie that has actors playing Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter—watch them try to get into some night clubs!—but this isn’t enough to cover the film’s major issues: repetition, uninteresting protagonists, and a long-play B-side narrative that simply will not end.

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One Response to “The Torontonian reviews Eden”

  1. Dave says:

    I felt the exact same way. Around 90 minutes the audience around me started sighing with impatience. For a movie about one of the most energetic music genres, this one certainly lacks a punch.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon