Series review: The Eddy
- Jazz, Parisian dreams and menacing realities abound in the sophisticated series created by Jack Thorne and partly directed by Damien Chazelle, due for worldwide release on Netflix on 8 May
"Beauty doesn’t last, beautiful things are fragile, and they tend towards death, somehow". We’re in modern-day Paris and a teacher is delivering a lesson on Charles Baudelaire before his high-school students move on to a maths session where the solution to a problem consists of “grouping the same elements together”. Echoing his two references, the jazz improvisations which are at the heart of the series The Eddy are themselves born out of an evanescent type of poetry of the present moment and a demanding and collective form of precision engineering. Set to be launched worldwide by Netflix on 8 May, the series’ first two episodes are helmed by French-American director Damien Chazelle, whose cinematographic talent and musical addiction have been apparent since Whiplash and La La Land.
Created by English-born Jack Thorne, The Eddy immediately sets itself light years apart from most other series by way of its virtuosic opening sequence, where the camera flies from the singer Maja (Poland’s Joanna Kulig, who shone in Cold War [+see also:
Q&A: Pawel Pawlikowski
film profile]) to American Randy Kerber’s piano, by way of drums (Croatia’s Lada Obradovic), saxophone (Haitian-Canadian Jowee Omicil), double bass (Cuba’s Damian Nueva Cortes) and trumpet (France’s Ludovic Louis), before travelling backstage to follow Elliot (André Holland), the club’s stressed owner, a famous American musician and composer exiled in Paris, where he hopes (alongside his associate Farid, played by Tahar Rahim) to turn The Eddy into a fashionable theatre which will be carried by a show-stealing group whom they hope will rise to prominence. But nothing is easy, whether it comes to their search for funds, the secrets of the past, complicated emotional and family ties (Elliot’s teenage daughter Julie, played by Amandla Stenberg, turns up in Paris) or the music which characterises their daily lives, accompanying them as they veer between tireless rehearsals and letting go, inspiration and disillusionment, solidarity and disconnection, heightened emotions and the dangers of the nocturnal world…
Constructed in the image of jazz, around a storyline interwoven with very free, swaying, breakaway elements, which borrow from various styles (from musicals through to crime films, psychological dramas to the social naturalism of the working class districts of a very racially mixed French capital), the first two episodes of The Eddy (each lasting over an hour) as offered up by Damien Chazelle (the six others are directed by France’s Houda Benyamina, Morocco’s Laïla Marrakchi and America’s Alan Poul) promise a great deal, injecting only very slightly formulaic ingredients, dynamism and bitter-sweet tonality into the world of TV series, a universe which doesn’t always escape the trap of conformity. The charisma of the actors (the remarkable and very subtle André Holland leading the cast) lends just the right pace to a potentially episodic story which is very skilfully set up and which never loses sight (or, above all, the sound) of its guiding musical line (events unfold during concerts, characters tinkle away on pianos or sing to themselves in their apartments whilst discussing something else entirely, Paris moves away from touristic clichés and overflows with world music as adopted by young generations, etc.). A highly faithful snapshot of what an artist’s life is actually like and of the existential and financial worries that accompany it, The Eddy strikes just the right balance between respect for the various codes pertaining to TV series and for highly personal, cinematic choice and nuance, between artifice and realism, and between a French setting and an international cast. It’s a fine balance which will satisfy all lovers of sharp and flat notes and which will introduce beginners to the mysteries of a life spent under the influence of jazz.
The Eddy was produced by US firm Endeavor Content in league with French group Atlantique Productions.
(Translated from French)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.