Magazine article Filmmaker

Lose Yourself to Dance

Magazine article Filmmaker

Lose Yourself to Dance

Article excerpt

French filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve makes movies about walking and not talking. About the unsaid stuff that underpins everyday life, that tacitly ferries us toward and away from life's big dramas: love, first love, broken love, careers as they peak and wane, reunions and ennui, death, family. Hers is a world where the moving image, like life, is animated not by the noise that accompanies celebration and turbulent times, but by time itself.

So much so that Hansen-Løve's four features, All Is Forgiven, The Father of My Children, Goodbye First Love and her most recent, Eden, span years, sometimes decades - figurative and, in some cases, literal lifetimes - never sacrificing meaning in favor of narrative push, instead accounting for moments as one does with memory: incrementally, impressionistically. "You understand so much in life that nobody explains to you," Hansen-Løve says. "I try to make movies like life, where nothing is really said, and it's there without needing to be explained."

Co-written with her brother Sven and based on his own experiences, Eden tells the story of Paul (Félix de Givry), a Paris DJ navigating the rise and shifting landscape of France's electronic dance music scene from the '90s until today. With his collaborator Stan (Hugo Conzelmann), they form Cheers, a duo heavily influenced by Chicago's soulful garage house rhythms. It's a sound that distinguishes them and soon transforms Cheers into an overnight sensation, booking and selling out parties, but it's also a sound that struggles to keep them relevant as the years pass. In one scene following an unsuccessful night, a club owner suggests they adapt their set in order to attract new crowds. Stubbornly, the duo refuses. Sitting there as they collect their meager fee, Paul and Stan suddenly look homeless in their own home. Nothing says the party's over like the sharp glare of a club once the lights have been turned on.

Meanwhile, their buddies, Daft Punk, become superstars and a cast of girlfriends - played by Pauline Etienne, Greta Gerwig, Laura Smet and Golshifteh Farahani - come and go, experiencing the fallout of ego and what happens when lust cools or becomes poisonous. As in her previous films, Hansen-Løve subtly portrays the muted tones of a couple in crises, the Cold Warring dynamic of two people in a room who've forgotten what it's like to feel giddy about someone; who pick fights for play; who navigate interior spaces with an angsty, near-teenaged restlessness. Who bring each other to the brink as if to accelerate some self-made notion that doom is an inevitable outcome of falling in love.

Paul's lifestyle destroys him. Think: evenings that turn into mornings and the melancholy that ensues. "Living at night depresses me," he admits later in the film after a decade of non-stop partying. He's developed a drug problem, is broke, and the stale wear of aging but never growing up has taken its toll. Unlike films that romanticize subcultures and revel in the addled mess of good and bad, of self-destruction as artistic license, Eden is a testament to Hansen-Løve's careful approach to work-life narratives and what it means to fall short of one's dreams.

In All Is Forgiven, one of the protagonists is a junkie poet, albeit one who writes little. In The Father of My Children, we follow a film producer as he faces financial ruin. In Goodbye First Love, our young heroine, Camille (played exquisitely by Lola Créton), turns to architecture in order to mend a broken heart but doesn't quite find success in her field. Her designs are criticized for reflecting a propensity for solitude instead of practicality, for designing a monastery when she was supposed to design student housing. In Eden, we again witness the diminishing returns of hitting one's fever pitch, perhaps too early and without much consideration for the long game. Paul approached his passion sincerely, attending raves and talking to friends about why he loved the music, only to be corrupted by exactly that: his passion. …

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