DJ TALE SPRINGS TO LIFE

Mia Hansen-Løve spins her brother’s ex­pe­ri­ence into a soul­ful story.

Los Angeles Times - - SUNDAY CALENDAR - By Mark Olsen Mark.olsen@latimes.com Twit­ter: @IndieFo­cus

Among the pul­sat­ing lights, hyp­notic rhythms and se­duc­tive move­ments of a night­club in full swing, there is of­ten a fig­ure, alone and apart, who keeps it go­ing. The party ends, the dancers go home, but the DJ re­mains to pack up.

Cov­er­ing some 20 years in the life of its main char­ac­ter against the back­drop of the de­vel­op­ing mu­sic scene, “is a rare film scaled both big and small, pay­ing close at­ten­tion to tiny de­tails of emo­tional de­vel­op­ment and the larger forces work­ing to shape them.

In the film, nowplaying in Los An­ge­les, a young par­ty­goer named Paul (Felix de Givry) be­comes half of a DJ duo known as Cheers, rid­ing a wave of par­ties around Paris and even­tu­ally around the world. As years grind by, Paul re­mains com­mit­ted to the soul­ful eu­pho­ria of the spe­cific garage house mu­sic he spins, even as the crowds start to dwin­dle. Even­tu­ally, as oth­ers in his cir­cle have moved on to reg­u­lar jobs or to start fam­i­lies, Paul has to de­cide to quit and start fresh

at some­thing new.

Di­rec­tor Mia HansenLøve wrote the script with her older brother, SvenHansen-Løve, whose real-life ex­pe­ri­ences on the elec­tronic mu­sic scene form the ba­sis for the film. “It’s kind of mixed up be­tween real things and things that are not so real,” said Sven. “But in the end I don’t think it mat­ters so much; what mat­ters is the feel­ing we want to ex­press in the film. It’s not me any­more, it’s some­one else.”

The col­lab­o­ra­tion be­gan with Mia in­ter­view­ing her brother about his ex­pe­ri­ences and then cre­at­ing a struc­ture for them to use. Her­pre­vi­ous films, “Fa­ther of My Chil­dren” and “Good­bye First Love,” won her great ac­claim on the in­ter­na­tional fes­ti­val cir­cuit for their emo­tional nu­ance and like­wise had an emo­tional ground­ing in real events. Bas­ing a story on her brother’s ex­pe­ri­ences rather than her own cre­ated some­thing at once fa­mil­iar but dif­fer­ent.

“I feel like up un­til now I’ve al­ways been writ­ing films that are some­thing be­tween fic­tion and re­al­ity, even though for me they are to­tally fic­tion,” said Mia, 34.

The am­bi­tious, ex­panded time frame of the film as well as the scale of someof the par­ties it de­picts is some­thing new for Mia, who is also reach­ing for some­thing much larger. “Through his path I was try­ing to cap­ture the spirit of a gen­er­a­tion,” she said.

Sven, 41, is study­ing for a master’s de­gree in cre­ative writ­ing from Univer­sité Paris 8. Hes­ees his time in­mu­sic as some­thing he had to go through to now find him­self as a writer. “In away you can say it’s about dis­il­lu­sion, but I don’t think I would say it’s about fail­ure,” he said. “At some point it’s not pos­si­ble any­more, but I think just to say it’s a fail­ure could be a bit too neg­a­tive. It’s also pos­i­tive be­cause it’s a way of learn­ing about your­self, the way the char­ac­ter learns about him­self.”

Amer­i­can ac­tress Greta Ger­wig, star and co-writer of “Frances Ha” and the up­com­ing “Mistress Amer­ica,” has a small but piv­otal role as a woman Paul has an af­fair with in Paris and then re­con­nects with years later in New York City, where she has moved into more con­ven­tional adult­hood.

When Ger­wig’s char­ac­ter, Ju­lia, leaves Paul be­hind in Paris, it is con­veyed through a qui­etly dev­as­tat­ing scene in which Paul reads a let­ter she left for him. Ger­wig is seen on-screen recit­ing the let­ter di­rectly to the cam­era in a mo­ment at once ephemeral and fleet­ing, per­ma­nent and im­mutable.

Ger­wig had al­ready been a fan of Mia Hansen-Løve’s films when she heard froma mu­tual ac­quain­tance that the film­maker had been try­ing un­suc­cess­fully to reach her through of­fi­cial chan­nels. “Which is of course ev­ery ac­tor’s night­mare,” she said, “some­one ge­nius wants you and they don’t tell you.”

Ger­wig met HansenLøve in New York and im­me­di­ately felt fully com­mit­ted to the pro­ject even if the part was for only a few days of work. “I fell very deeply in girl-crush love with her,” said Ger­wig. “I was a goner when we were talk­ing. I said I’ll do any­thing, I just want to be a part of it.”

When in­tro­duc­ing the film’s world pre­miere at the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val last fall, HansenLøve said, “Peo­ple who ex­pect to see a biopic of Daft Punk will be very dis­ap­pointed.”

And yet as it turns out, the Grammy-win­ning duo does play a cru­cial role in the film. Start­ing in the same place as Paul and the Cheers crew, Daft Punk goes on to a par­al­lel ca­reer, one marked by a steady rise to the top.

Through­out the film Daft Punk is used in a man­ner sim­i­lar to Bob Dy­lan in the Coen Broth­ers’ “In­side Llewyn Davis,” a par­al­lel su­per­star ca­reer that re­mains teas­ingly out of reach.

In one of the movie’s most up­lift­ing, joy­ous scenes — and one that Sven HansenLøve said is drawn di­rectly from real life — dur­ing a packed house party in the scene’s early days, Daft Punk plays for the first time its track “Da Funk,” which would go on to be one of its most en­dur­ing songs.

The time frame for the film was shifted slightly so that Daft Punk’s 2013 song “Within,” with the plead­ing lyric of “please tellme who I am,” could be used in amov­ing scene near the end of the movie.

“I do think they play a cru­cial role in the film and they are not dec­o­ra­tive,” said Mia Hansen-Løve. “The thing I found beau­ti­ful and that I wanted to have in the film is the fact that Paul the char­ac­ter never has any bad feel­ings about them. On the con­trary, even though they are ri­vals and the ones who suc­ceed, so it could be about jeal­ousy and fail­ure, he still loves their mu­sic.”

“They had an idea of what they would be in the fu­ture from a very, very early stage. They had a plan,” said Sven Hansen-Løve. “In those days I was just hav­ing a good time and en­joy­ing the mu­sic and the par­ties. I wasn’t re­ally plan­ning any­thing.”

Ger­wig re­called the open­ing se­quence of the movie in great de­tail—“I got movie chills,” she said — lead­ing to a mo­ment of Paul lis­ten­ing to mu­sic in an empty club af­ter a night of par­ty­ing. The del­i­cate mod­u­la­tion of mu­sic, per­for­mance and emo­tion cre­ated by Mia Hansen-Løve is a form of po­etry unto it­self.

“I think she’s one of the greats right now,” added Ger­wig. “She’s one of the peo­ple who are true auteurs mak­ing ex­cel­lent, per­sonal, in­ter­est­ing films with her own cin­e­matic lan­guage that she’s de­vel­oped. There’s a hand­ful of peo­ple like that, and she’s one of them.”

Jay L. Clen­denin Los An­ge­les Times

FELIX DE GIVRY

steps into the shoes of di­rec­tor Mia Hansen-Løve’s record-spin­ning brother in “Eden.”

CG Cin­ema / Broad Green Pic­tures

YOUNG DJ Paul (Felix de Givry) has to re­assess his life amid a shift­ing elec­tron­ic­mu­sic scene in “Eden.”

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