A Rave for Eden
An AFI Fest Must See

AFI Fest 2014

aiRmFBwdULR9-YeoRo8oZk9bJ5ZnwzS8QC2Hus4Sm4I,rRFmIwXPdF3XGh3rfoYERdlNIMIFM90ig1zqR2KGqfg,8mrP89JayoQxN-CCbaGHK_vYzFPTC2eMMOmPuWk7J1g,sBJP7LmQTvwZa2w1EKmMtlVIP15KNY2aKcdf-1ur2WIIt’s easy enough to take the DJ for granted, especially when you just came to get high or get laid. Know what I’m sayin’? Directed by Mia Hansen-Løve, Eden (2014) takes us back to when DJs became international superstars of the burgeoning electro rave scene.

Mia Hansen-Løve directs a scene.

Mia Hansen-Løve directs a scene.

The story begins in 1992 Paris. In the dark, Paul (Félix de Givry) and his friends Stan (Hugo Conzelmann) and Cyril (Roman Kolinka) follow the siren call of the dance track “Sueño Latino.” “We adore the combination of machines and voices,” says Paul. As in the U.S., raves happened in secret spots away from prying parents and police. It was an innocent time, the Garden of Eden of the title (also the name of a fanzine). Paul studies literature at university but his heart isn’t in it. What he really wants to do is spin vinyl. As with any developing artist, he learns from other DJs. He’s an apt pupil with ears sensitive enough to appreciate the flute section in the mix. Eventually, he becomes one of the founders of “French Touch.”


This is an exciting movie to watch, filmed in semi-documentary style by Denis Lenoir  [Paris, je t’aime (2006), Carlos (2010)]. In many instances, songs play through, a wise decision by the filmmakers since music is what the movie is all about. Hansen-Løve co-wrote the film with her brother Sven, a former DJ who picked most of the songs including the Derrick May remix that opens the film.

Arnold_Jarvis_BPaul’s journey takes him from Paris to New York to Chicago and back again, always consumed by the music. He forms a duo with Stan called Cheers. The young DJs have an awareness of their Franco-fied ‘garage’ music’s roots and know the benefit of using authentic black American voices. To that end, they fly in soul singers Arnold Jarvis and La India. As raves become more of a business, Paul gripes about the diva’s expenses, the price of authenticity.

Vincent Lacoste and Arnaud Azoulay portray real life mix masters Daft Punk whose support was critical, according to the filmmakers. In a subplot, Cyril is creating a graphic novel about the music scene with their comical friend Arnaud, played by familiar face Vincent Macaigne {Tonnerre (2013)].

Hugo Conzelmann and Félix de Givry

Hugo Conzelmann and Félix de Givry

Pauline Etienne is Louise, the closest Paul comes to committment. With him, one has to remember Duke Ellington’s line “music is my mistress.” It’s hard for Louise to compete and it shows in her fits of aggravation. Paul lazily lets his music do his emotional heavy lifting. When he returns to poetry near the end of the film, he’s finally starting to learn better.

52nd New York Film Festival - "Time Out Of Mind" PremiereA slightly older American girlfriend, Julia (Greta Gerwig), knows to get out while she’s ahead. They meet years later in New York. The brief interlude involving Julia and her live-in boyfriend Larry (Brady Corbet) is excruciating to watch. Larry and Paul valiantly attempt small talk. Paul and Julia then try to catch up. Paul realizes that his great love has moved on. Meanwhile, back at the hotel, Louise is thinking the worst.

In their way, the relationships of the movie do work. Hansen-Løve has been successful with her character-driven films that don’t adhere to a formula. Of his many loves, Paul is closest to his mother (Arsinée Khanjian) but hides his increasing drug use from her until it’s almost too late.

His rise to fame and relative fortune is exhilarating. In epic fashion, there’s an eventual, sobering fall back to earth. Music is cyclical, though, and if he waits long enough, DJ Paul’s time will come again.


Friday, Nov. 7, 9:15pm – Chinese 6
Sunday, Nov. 9, 9:30pm – Chinese 3
Released in France on November 19 2014

Read the Indiewire interview with Mia Hansen-Løve