Eden: Enjoyably Surprising 

It’s more than just a pocket history of European electronic dance club music.

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In Europe they do things differently. Example number 3,793: Mia Hansen-Løve’s Eden. The director of 2009’s Father of My Children — the tragic story of a workaholic film producer — has a knack for tilting a narrative convention sideways in her thought-provoking character studies. Eden appears at first to be a pocket history of the electronic dance club music Europeans never get tired of — garage, house, techno, disco, etc. — but it’s just as enjoyable as a showbiz character study of a Parisian DJ named Paul (Félix de Givry), based on the director’s brother Sven Hansen-Løve, who co-wrote the film.

Paul is a complicated character portrayed minimally, sandwiched in between full-bodied dance floor sequences featuring the music of Rosie Gaines, Daft Punk, Crystal Waters, Bootsy Collins, Sueño Latino, and other artists. There’s more than a tinge of reality, with no “big contest” or major love story, just the ebb and flow of Paul’s career, stretching more than twenty years in Paris, with stopovers in New York, Chicago (house kings Vibe Music), and Morocco, and utilizing such actors as Greta Gerwig, Pauline Etienne, Golshifteh Farahani, and Roman Kolinka as Paul’s various creative and amorous partners.

For someone who desires his music to strike a medium “between euphoria and melancholy,” Paul never seems to age. Must be his healthy regimen of junk food, cocaine, and alcohol. And yet we catch a glimpse of a man who survives the fast lane through a combination of talent and a love of poetry (particularly Robert Creeley). No easy moral lessons allowed, or necessary. Deep house, deceptively deep DJ.

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