DVD Review: Eden Is West (2009)

22 Apr

The latest film from Greek-French director Costa-Gavras is Eden Is West, a heartfelt exploration of the trials faced by illegal immigrants today.

Our protagonist, Elias (Riccardo Scarmacio), is not given a nationality, a move by the director to make a wider message with his film. We join Elias as he and his friend sit amongst hundreds of other illegal immigrants bound for France. Elias’ dream is to make it to Paris, which he has imagined as some sort of fairytale city in his mind, a place full of opportunity for a man such as himself. His plans are thrown into chaos when in the dead of night the men in charge of the boat dump the immigrants in the middle of the ocean, the water police fast approaching it is only the quick thinking Elias who jumps into the water and swims for land.

When Elias awakes in the morning he finds himself at the Eden Club Paradise resort, a beachside playground for wealthy Europeans. This is where Elias begins his lengthy journey to Paris, from pretending to be a staff member at the resort, to striking up a physical relationship with one of the guests Elias is soon to discover that not everyone’s sympathies lie with the homeless and displaced.

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Eden Is West is a bittersweet film, there are moments of both hilarity, with a distinct French style of humour – think director Jacques Tati’s physical comedy stylings, and heartbreak. From a man conning Elias out of the little money he has, to the constant running from the police, the people trying to use immigrants for cheap labour and the final crushing blow (which should be kept a secret until you watch for yourself) you really develop an emotional connection to Elias over the length of the film. What makes this enjoyable and not a plodding drama  is the host of characters Elias meets along the way. All the women he encounters seem to want to bed him, one or two men also share this desire and it makes for some highly amusing scenes. Most people he meets are friendly, sympathetic to his cause and willing to help him out, it makes you wonder how you would act if faced with a similar situation in real life. This is a real gem of a film, even thinking back on it now it brings a smile to my face – this is definitely one to add to your to watch list!

Special features: in addition to the original theatrical trailer you have deleted scenes and a very interesting making of feauturette, which you will definitely want to watch after finishing the film!

Jess Lomas

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