Wednesday, 15 October 2014


Paul sees the world differently from others. Or, to rephrase, he hears it differently, a silent chorus of birdsong, a million audio tracks converging into a brightly coloured flight of fancy. Yet Mia Hansen-Love's Eden is neither a depressive tragedy about artistic genius blighted by commercial failure, nor a celebratory biopic - it's just the real thing. Hansen-Love's own familiarity with the house music scene that blossomed in Paris through the '90s and into the '00s begets a frank portrait of the seminal experiences of one of its pioneers. There is glorious success and dismal failure, the only constancy (aside from the unrelenting financial difficulty of such a lifestyle) being the music; even as it morphs, adapting to fit the times, its insistent Frenchness and the qualities that entails hold firm. What these young DJs offer is invention and reverence in perfect harmony, ensuring the artistic merit of their work even as it changes over time. Hansen-Love knows well, though, the inevitable impossibility of sticking too closely to one's guns - in Eden, music can heal wounds, but it cannot prevent injury from occurring to begin with. This is an optimistic film despite its downbeat notes, and Hansen-Love possesses the wisdom to stress the practicalities of everyday life, not just benign nostalgia, thus allowing reality to give vital perspective to the viewer, as it does to the characters. They largely refuse to give up, working even through the hard times, maintaining their strength of self. The evocation of specific moments is beautiful, especially the slow pans across heady nightclub scenes, the euphoria provided through simple soundwaves uniting the audiences in attendance; also the passing of time is excellently depicted, with Hansen-Love charting the changes in circumstances, whether big or small, momentous or inconsequential, or even both. The fresh, acidic, pallid palette of Northern France is perfectly judged, though doesn't even dare to compete for attention with the soundtrack. It's a thorough and thrilling snapshot, like a Facebook photo album, of French house music over the last 22 years, and an ideal distillation of the film as a whole.