There is just something enchanting about Paris. It’s the vibe of the city, that fascinates us for centuries now and makes us wanting to start a new life in Europe‘s hotspot. Loose ourselves in it‘s dreaminess and follow our goals. Before there was Los Angeles or „La La Land“, like some like to call it, there was Paris. The place where visions turn into greatness, where dreams can be fulfilled. Netflix took this setting and created a miniseries for people who know music. For those who live and breathe it. Music has never been as present as it is in „The Eddy“, which was produced and partially directed by none other than La La Land Oscar winner Damien Chazelle, who is the youngest director to earn this honor.
The first two episodes, directed by Chazelle, set the tone. It’s not the Paris of postcard motifs, but the Paris of the banlieus, a melting pot of cultures, especially from the Arab world. The film was shot on 16 mm, which gives the pictures a coarse-grained, rough character. The wobbly hand camera follows the figures, looks over their shoulders, directly into their faces, often seems restless. This makes an unusual watching experience from what you‘re used to from Netflix. And it‘s very safe to say that this miniseries won‘t appeal to everybody. Some may find it boring, some other too long. But it still finds it‘s balance for true dreamers and musicians. „The Eddy“ wants you to participate and feel the sounds of the saxophones and the piano, instead of sitting relaxed on your sofa, while you‘re stuffing in sweets and snacks.
Damien Chazelle almost became a jazz musician. Music history may not care that he didn’t become one, but for film history it was great luck. Nobody makes more musical films. Nobody weaves musical and cinematic structure more closely together. Nobody tries to make you be a part of the quartets and club gigs than he does. It‘s like an ambition that Chazelle has, including everyone to feel and experience the exact same things that he as a professional and as an enthusiast senses. However it‘s quite funny that his two episodes are the strongest out of the eight – maybe because he is the best at what he‘s doing and knows how to handle this particular music genre with grace.
The viewer follows one of the many jazz clubs in Paris where two plots take place at the same time (plus some stories on the side). The Eddy, as the club is called, is harassed by organized crime, which is described a bit clichéd. Furthermore, the house band is hoping for a record deal. The club and band are run by Elliott Udo (André Holland), who is also stressed out by private problems, among which his ravishingly chaotic daughter (Amandla Stenberg) in particular. The script of Jack Thorne develops in a somewhat predictable way, is also cheesy at times, but the characters are drawn so lovingly that you take part in their fate and therefore watch episode after episode.
The Paris of the series is also realistic, although the postcard Paris is far away from what’s shown here. It is exhausting and mostly grey, with suburban trains, trash cans and everything that travel films don’t show. Only once in a while you can catch a glimpse of the Eiffel tower. But „The Eddy“ shows that Paris consists of several realities. White destitute people, wealthy restaurateurs, flics and dealers, Arab immigration, as well as African and Eastern European immigration, they all form the backdrop against which the drama unfolds. The language changes constantly in the middle of a sentence between English, French and a few chunks of Arabic, which is not even changed by switching in the Netflix menu. So if subtitles scare you off, you’re definitely wrong with “The Eddy”. Each of the eight episodes, each lasting over an hour, focuses on one of the characters, while the main plot around Elliot develops in the background.
“The Eddy” is notable for the fact that no script was written at the beginning. Each of the eight episodes is over an hour long, all in all the series seems like a nine hour arthouse feature film, which could have been a bit tighter. There are no cliffhangers, no clear structure, everything is somehow loose, improvised. Just like jazz. But if you love it, you will also like “The Eddy”, even if it has some hick-ups now and then.
But in the end the music is the real star of “The Eddy”. There is no soundtrack in the conventional sense. Music only takes place when it is an immediate part of the scene. When the band rehearses or plays in a club, an instrument is lying around, the protagonists wander the streets and meet other musicians. So the songs naturally take up the mood of the series. And blend you into a world with nothing, but pure jazz. And that‘s all what „The Eddy“ is about.