Like her previous works, Hansen-Løve keeps things fairly cool both in terms of her visuals and the expression of her young cast. Where many would be tempted to leap onto the dance floor in each of the many nightclub sequences, attempting to mimic participation, she hangs back. That detachment creates its own sense of atmosphere, capturing the pulsating beat and the writhing bodies through observation rather than emulation. The same is true of the characters with Paul often as implacable as her past protagonists, though as the years pass, de Givry does manage to deftly and gradually develop a settling ennui that makes his arc subtle but believable. The restraint doesn't always pay dividends, however, as the intensity of Paul's life is strangely absent even in his younger days.
Flings with Greta Gerwig (as a US ex-pat) and Pauline Etienne as tempestuous on-again-off-again girlfriend Louise never quite provide the force needed to pierce Paul's shell. Neither are the affects of his long-term cocaine addiction really felt other than in paying lip service to his perennially empty bank account. Fortunately, a sense of humour and nostalgia are both employed successfully to skirt the potential inertia of Paul's slowly declining career, and though de Givry's performance is quietly moving, one may have just hoped that Eden would get under its subject's skin a little bit more.
This Eden review was originally published as part of our coverage of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.
Ben Nicholson | @BRNicholson