Eden Review

Eden (2016) Movie Review By Michael McGeown

 

Eden Review

Director: Robbie Walsh
Writer: Robbie Walsh
Stars: Johnny Elliott, Sarah Carroll, Kellie Blaise

It seems that one of the only ways to appreciate life is to first lose everything. Losing everything may afford you the forgotten ability to see life as it really is – something simple. We tend to complicate it. At the beginning of ‘Eden’, we learn Adam is homeless and we are shown the hardships he must face daily. He passes his time attempting to recreate his old life. Playing with a stray dog as if it was his own or playing football alone. He examines discarded items in forgotten places with the hope that they may be of use. We also learn he loses his home (and more) for reasons just beyond his control. And this is something Adam, understandably, finds difficult to accept.

The beginning of Eden is dull, depressing even. And this is required. Some audiences may not appreciate this, but I believe it makes Eden an effective film. It sheds light on the issue of homelessness and later we discover that the key to solving it may be to first understand why it happens.

Adam’s daily life is peppered with one difficult circumstance after another. Threats from other homeless people are common and they are from those who seem to have given up on regaining their previous life. Maybe this reveals who Adam may become.
Adam helps others when he can too. He shares a sandwich with a friend when he could have easily chosen not to. He gives what little money he has to a woman he knows only briefly for the simple reason that it will help her. Adam’s character is revealed slowly, and this is an effective way of demonstrating that anyone can fall on hard times. This can be credited to the talents of Johnny Elliot (Adam) and Robbie Walsh (writer/director).

Elliot’s ‘Adam’ is dignified and poised. Adam’s nobility is maintained even under these difficult circumstances. Adam knows that if he lets his new environment break him then all is lost. I believe he can handle losing his home but under no circumstances will he relinquish the goodness remaining in his character. Elliot’s ability to show this is wonderful.

“One day leads in to another”, Adam says. It becomes clear that being homeless is an extremely difficult life to escape. This realisation is emphasised by the greyness of the images the director creates. Walsh puts you in Adam’s shoes. Homelessness is a lonely, cold way of life. Walsh and Elliot portray this life with an authenticity that makes for difficult viewing. But it is needed, there is nothing pleasant about living without a shelter. Those with a roof over their head may need reminding that a person’s circumstances do not define their character. It may remind them that everyone needs help sooner or later and that they should help others whenever they can.

Walsh’s direction is effective. His use of the close-up is abundant but not over-bearing. This allows the audience to fully appreciate the performances. One close-up allowed Sarah Carroll, as the troubled mother, ‘Claire’, to really demonstrate her talents. This was a heart-breaking scene and one I would have expected to see in a major production.

Eden is believable. It was written by someone who has either experienced Adam’s life or came precariously close to it. The dialogue is also realistic, nothing felt contrived. It could have almost been a documentary. If someone told me Adam was homeless, I would not have been surprised. There is a welcome moment of hope towards the end – a scene between Adam and Nicci St-George’s character, which is great. It adds a welcome contrast to all that came before. Walsh’s brief role as the taxi driver is also noteworthy. It was genuine and very natural.

Eden was a pleasant surprise. Given the modest budget and minimal resources available, the cast and crew have produced a little gem. I’d be curious to see what they’d do with more resources.

This film has importance. It sheds light on issues that need to be addressed. Maybe if we had Adam’s strength we could do something about it.

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