I’m sorry to have taken my time with The Eddy, the eight-episode, Paris-based Netflix miniseries that began streaming on 5.8. I’m actually still taking my time as I’ve only seen the first two episodes, which were directed by Damien Chazelle, the hotshot helmer of La La Land, Whiplash and the (presumably) forthcoming Babylon. (Three other directors — Houda Benyamina, Laïla Marrakchi and Alan Poul — directed the remaining six episodes.) Chazelle also executive produces.
But even within the realm of episode #1 and #2, I was slow to get into it. Because The Eddy, by design, is slow to get into itself. It slips and slides and shuffles into its own rhythm and razzmatazz, adopting a pace and an attitude that feels casual, unhurried and catch-as-catch-can. Which is cool once you understand what The Eddy is up to.
Written or co-written by Jack Thorne, it’s about a Belleville/Oberkampf jazz club owner named Elliott (Andre Holland) and the friends, fragments, tangents and pressures of his life — debts, uncertainties, his daughter (Amandla Sternberg), the resident jazz band’s diva-like singer (Joanna Kulig), his business partner (Tahar Rahim), bad guys, business permits, sudden tragedy, etc.
Toward the end of episode #2 it finally hit me. In a certain unannounced sense The Eddy is an atmospheric musical — a drama of friends and families in Paris that’s punctuated with spirit-lifting jazz sequences. (The original music was composed by by Glen Ballard and Randy Kerber.) It’s a film that says over and over that “life can be hard and cruel, but music will save your soul.”
Which also means, not incidentally, that the French-speaking Chazelle is recharging his on-screen love affair with jazz, which began with Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (’09) and continued with Whiplash (’14) and La La Land (’16).
This is how it feels to me. This plus a tangled mystery about finding the killers of Farid, the business partner. Plus the constant savorings of the Oberkampf and Belleville districts.
Boilerplate: Elliott, a semi-retired jazz pianist, and Farid run The Eddy together — Elliott handling talent, Farid doing the books. Things begin with Elliott’s daughter Julie (Sternberg) hitting town. The club is financially struggling (what else?). Elliott is trying to arrange a record deal for the house band. The singer is the moody, no-day-at-the-beach Maya (Kulig) with whom Elliott has been romantically entwined, and the pianist is Kerber.
The main complication is Farid’s murder, along with the fact that Paris detectives think Elliott might be the culprit.
Apparently each episode focuses on a different character — Elliott, Maja, Julie, etc. — with the storylines intersecting.
To repeat myself, the main thing in The Eddy is the music. It’s completely worth it for this element alone. It made me feel like I’d really been somewhere.
From “Transcending Of All Woes,” posted on 2.16.17: “Paris is probably the greatest aroma town I’ve ever sunk into. A feast wherever you go — Montmarte, Oberkampf, Montparnasse, Passy. The Seine at night, outdoor markets (especially in the pre-dawn hours), the aroma of sauces and pasta dishes coming from cafes, warm breads, scooter and bus exhaust, strong cigarettes, strong coffee, Middle Eastern food stands (onions, sliced meats, spices), gelato shops, etc.
And the only way to really savor these aromas, obviously, is to do so in the open air and preferably on a scooter or motorcycle so you can enjoy them in rapid succession. It’s the only way to travel over there, certainly in the warmer months. I’ve never felt so intensely alive and unbothered as during my annual Paris scooter roam-arounds.