This portrait of an imploding marriage is remarkable for every reason that counts in a good film: Its emotions are passionate and immediate, yet from frame one we are trusted to understand, free of manipulation, exactly what this husband and wife of 10 years are suffering and thinking. The suspense grows out of their blindness to each other. Billy (Aidan Kelly) is a telephone lineman in the Irish countryside who, rather than face his wife, prefers to vanish into a pub after work and dote on fond memories of a heroic deed from his youth. Breda (The Magdalene Sisters‘ Eileen Walsh) suffers his absences painfully, along with their two kids, and retreats into indolent melancholy, illuminated by a most intense and elaborate sexual fantasy. Written by Eugene O’Brien and directed by Declan Recks, Eden constitutes cinema of a very high order: The use of music is discreet and generally “sourced” by the settings, while the cinematography (by Owen McPolin) is designed to suggest what Billy and Breda emphasize to themselves when they look at the world and each other. Kelly may have the thankless role of an ungrateful husband, especially in relation to the heart-piercing Walsh, but he puts us in constant contact with the suffering being behind his eyes. As Breda gives herself a radiant makeover and Billy fights his compulsive lust for a beautiful teenager, we nonetheless feel these two dreamers’ hopes for each other, even as he risks disgracing himself and she risks detonating their bond altogether.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 12, 2008