‘The Eddy’ review: Offers little redemption, despite its ambitious scale and cast

Damien Chazelle’s Netflix’s show brings to life the chaotic world of the musical genre with unsteady focus and a brilliant cast

A few episodes into The Eddy, two characters are walking their way to a close friend’s funeral. It’s a sad moment, but suddenly they’re met with a barrage of naked environmentalist cyclists with their cellulite on display and jiggling skin in all its natural glory. The break is an incongruous and quite inexplicable interruption of the austere context. But that’s what The Eddy is: confused, unpredictable yet seemingly familiar and completely character-driven.

Wildly anticipated because of having Damien Chazelle as executive producer – he also directed the first two episodes as evidenced by his signature camera work – The Eddy is a limited series. Over eight episodes, Jack Thorne and Chazelle relay the trials and tribulations of celebrated former jazz pianist Elliot Udo (André Holland), the owner of The Eddy, a nondescript but highly popular jazz bar in Paris. While trying to snag a record deal for the house band, Udo has to circumvent a run-in with dangerous gangs, a turbulent love affair and raising his teenage daughter.

Intriguing though its premise may be and wholly ambitious in scale and cast, The Eddy can’t quite find its grip or pace over eight one-hour long episodes. Each segment, dedicated to one musician from the house band, has the audience in rapture over back stories that ultimately find little consequence to a larger whole. With glitchy storytelling glaringly evident, it becomes laborious then, bordering on the oppressive, when progress is so excruciatingly slow.The Eddy

  • Director: Damien Chazelle, Houda Benyamina, Laïla Marrakchi, Alan Poul
  • Cast: André Holland, Joanna Kulig, Leïla Bekhti, Tahar Rahim, Adil Dehbi, Randy Kerber, Ludovic Louis, Damian Cortes, Lada Obradovic, Jowee Omicil, Amandla Stenberg
  • Storyline: When jazz club, The Eddy’s owner Elliot Udo is forced to mix with crime in Paris, he might lose everything he’s worked hard for

In times of restricted attention spans with a plethora of content available at the click of a button, The Eddy could be just a panacea for those looking to slow down and smell the roses. It might as well have been intended to be. Especially, when the flower here is the wonderfully alluring world of jazz. But the show never quite manages to find its hero. After a brief taste, albeit a tantalising one, of the show’s brilliant original music, the cohesive link of The Eddy quickly oscillates to become gritty Paris as a melting pot of cultures. Just as that’s sampled, there’s a swift change to familial dynamics and then later the spotlight turns on each character’s personal life. Thorne and Chazelle would have done well to let the audience enjoy just one focus — in this writer’s opinion — the music.

In spite of its flaws, The Eddy does possess heart with sincere and passionate performances across the board. Holland as a harried business owner, friend and father, for whom respite remains elusive. Joanna Kulig as Maja the lead singer of the house band stands out. The show’s depiction of a less-than-romantic side of Paris too strikes a chord with its portrayal of a multi-ethnic Paris and her criminal underbelly. Unfortunately, though, there’s very little redemption for The Eddy when episode eight is done and dusted with. Some will hope for a second season for closure, but in this case, it’s very easy to move on without ever knowing.

The Eddy is streaming on Netflix

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