"The true star of the movie is the music"
by Fabien Lemercier
- The French director reflects on the Eden adventure, an ambitious and successful fiction film at the heart of the emergence of French Touch.
Meeting with talented Mia Hansen-Løve a few days before the French release (via Ad Vitam) of Eden [+see also:
interview: Charles Gillibert
interview: Mia Hansen-Løve
film profile], her 4th feature film following All is forgiven [+see also:
interview: David Thion
interview: Mia Hansen-Löve
film profile] (Directors' Fortnight 2007), The Father of my Children [+see also:
interview: Mia Hansen-Løve
film profile] (Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize at Cannes in 2009) and Goodbye First Love [+see also:
interview: Mia Hansen-Love
film profile] (special mention in Locarno in 2011).
Cineuropa: What was your original intention for Eden?
Mia Hansen-Løve: The idea to retrace the steps of a DJ figure for 20 years, inspired by my brother's life, was, in a way, a continuation of my previous films: a portrait. On the other hand, I wanted to make a movie centred on a given era, on a group of artists that would embody the essence of that era. In both cases, I got the feeling that the character and the era had not been represented. It was an opportunity for me to venture into unknown territory.
Your narratives very often take place over many years. Why the attraction?
That allows me to make the present and the past interact and to develop the present in the second half of the movie. Eden could well have come to a halt in 2001 with the advent of Daft Punk, but that’s not what I wanted: emotion for me is linked to how the past leads us to the present and to how the present is haunted by the past, like life in general.
Did the screenplay change much during the lengthy financing process?
It changed hugely in terms of the number of versions and the pages cut, but not at all in terms of substance. It was condensed, but there were always two parts: a first part that describes the rise experienced by a whole group, and a second part that conveys the fall and that hones in on Paul's character, kind of like a noose around his neck.
Once again you deal with the theme of disillusionment.
I find that term a bit ambiguous because I always feel that my movies break free at the end, that there's always a door that opens, a kind of tenacity or resilience, something that lives on in the form of grief. Eden ultimately leads to freedom, to the solitude of being oneself. It’s more similar to a coming-of-age story than to a story about disillusionment, although disillusionment is probably one of the steps to finding oneself.
What about your choice of an almost unknown actor?
The artistic vision for the film was to search for a kind of naked truth, without costumes or pomp – to tell the tale of a DJ who, although he experiences fame, remains an outsider. I would have thought it a bit out-of-place, not to say ridiculous, to use a well-known actor to personify the whole "French Touch" underground. All my films and perhaps Eden more than ever, are based on the desire to shed light on those who are kind of in the shadows. And those who were interested in the fil; and who financed it could see that the true movie star is the music.
How did you work the direction and production?
It was all about being active and trying a load of different things. So, there are some scenes that were filmed with a handheld camera, tracking shots, fixed shots, etc. There’s no definitive process that was to be mechanically applied. Also, I tried to combine the "rock'n'roll" side, speed and fluidity in the direction with great care for a formal elegance and, by using fluid movements, to give the film a certain style so that it wouldn’t ever be flashy or sensationalist, unlike what you often see in movies that play with the images of "clubs".
Where does your next project, The Future stand?
If all goes well, I’ll be filming in July. The movie will be produced by CG Cinéma once again and will be the portrait of a philosophy professor played by Isabelle Huppert.
(Translated from French)