Greta Gerwig and Brady Corbet star in the exhilarating new film from French auteur Mia Hansen-Løve (Goodbye First Love), which traces the rise of the French electronic-music boom in the 1990s.
Electronic dance music is the rock 'n' roll of our time. And the jazz. And the punk. Whichever your frame of reference, EDM calls to mind stories of creative genius and staggering fame — but also of lives lost and abandoned in the night. It's not easy to capture the texture of this culture on film, but writer-director Mia Hansen-Love has found an ideal approach.
Paul (Félix de Givry) is a teenager in the underground dance music scene of early-nineties Paris. Raves dominate, but he's drawn to the more soulful rhythms of Chicago's garage house scene. He and a friend form a DJ duo called — with unfathomable layers of irony — Cheers. Two of their friends form a group with a similarly odd name: Daft Punk. These young artists plunge into the life, building their following one set at a time, dropping out of daytime society to form a community based on the high of the ceaseless beats and bass. There are drugs. There is sex. Paul hooks up with an American in Paris, played by the spirited Greta Gerwig (also appearing at the Festival in The Humbling), but that may be fleeting.
Hansen-Love's previous films Tout est pardonée, Father of My Children and Goodbye First Love are, in the deepest sense, relationship films. They focus not on plot points but on glimpses of connection and betrayal that accumulate to form the bigger picture. Eden is her largest canvas to date. Drawing on the story of her own brother Sven, with whom she co-wrote the screenplay, Hansen-Love has created what you could call a low-key epic. Yes, the film captures the rise of dance music in Paris, Chicago, and New York — but via intimate moments in the company of young people who didn't become Daft Punk. Instead, they gave everything in search of that intoxicating cocktail of euphoria and melancholy so often found in the club.