The dark side of Eden

Eden is a new film written by Mia and Sven Hansen-Løve.  It tells the story of Paul, an aspiring French DJ, emerging into the dance music and clubbing boom which started in the early 1990s.  Together with a group of friends he becomes involved in the music scene, the nightlife, the sex, the drugs and the hedonistic promise of the era.

The basis for the story is the fresh and exciting new music which emerged at the time.  It fused traditional musical instruments and vocals with sounds created by computer underpinned by a constant repetitive beat.  The soundtrack features notable dance music classics including Jaydee – Plastic Dreams, Liquid – Sweet Harmony, Bryon Stingily – Get Up, Daft Punk – One More Time and Crystal Waters – Gypsy Woman.  As you hear these during the film you are reminded just how fresh, innovative and exciting these tracks were and they still sound absolutely amazing.  It is like a wake up call for the ears.

The storyline centres on Paul as he tries to develop a career as a DJ over several decades in Paris at the time electronic music duo Daft Punk were gaining huge popularity for their unique musical sound.  He starts by playing music for his friends at house parties but this leads to bookings at larger venues and events in front of ever-increasing numbers of people.  He becomes involved in the lifestyle attendant with this scene staying up all night, taking drugs, having casual relationships and developing a careless approach to life.  At one point he wakes up to put on his Paul Smith designer clothes but looks in the fridge to discover he has no food.    One of the writers of the film, Sven Hansen-Løve, was part of DJ duo Cheers who ran parties in Paris in the early nineties.  His personal experiences and knowledge clearly give the film a certain autobiographical veracity.

Eden captures very well the musical and clubbing aura of the time.  There is a brilliant segment near the start in which Paul walks down a tunnel of light onto a wild dance floor full of youths dancing to a pulsating beat.  There are snapshot images of people caught in the coloured lights of a nightclub totally lost in the moment.  It is one of the best parts of the film.

But it is not all about orgiastic pleasure.  The movie reflects the dark side of living for the moment showing Paul’s developing addiction to drugs, lack of intimate connection with other people and his inability to function outside the vampire world of nightclubs.  If you are hoping for a feel-good “it’s all about the fun” ending you are in for a surprise.

Eden is definitely worth seeing if you are passionate about the music and interested in the sociological history of clubbing.  But don’t go with any illusions.  While the music sounds incredible and dancing all night with beautiful people makes you feel amazing, darkness lurks in this hedonistic garden.

Eden opens on Friday 24 July 2015.

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