Welcome to the quietly strange village of Eden, in Northern Ireland, home to a host of eccentric but well-meaning individuals who live out their lives in this broken, forgotten place. Simon Aeppli has returned to his hometown to capture some of its uniqueness on film, building a montage of images, sounds, and interviews with Eden’s residents. The people themselves are fascinating to watch, but Aeppli dedicates a good portion of the film to simply showing us the oddly still, loneliness of Eden; focusing on inanimate objects, or empty streets, and long moments where all that can be heard is the wind rustling through the trees.
This almost surrealist style lends itself well to the tone of the film, building a real mood until you truly believe in the utter isolation of the village. That’s not to say the film is at all disrespectful of the place, or the people, indeed the strange quality of Eden is simply part of it’s charm, and there is a rich humour that stays constant throughout the film. It’s certainly evident that Simon Aeppli appreciates the place, and the conversations he has with the locals are always warm and friendly, and yet there is a strange tension to the film. Perhaps it is just the unnerving quiet of the place, or the run down buildings, or the looming power station in the background, but there is something unmistakably bleak about Eden.
Regardless of the place itself, the interviews with the residents are joyful to watch, as they talk about this and that, discussing everything from leprechauns to dust mites. The film is almost fifteen minutes in length, but it doesn’t actually feel that long, perhaps because each interview feels wholly different, or perhaps simply because Eden is an interesting place to visit. It may be a bizarre documentary, but Eden is also very intelligent, Aeppli understands how to create a mood, which is integral to understanding the place itself. The village of Eden has as much character as it’s residents, indeed it would seem to have a personality of it’s own, one that is at odds with it’s inhabitants cheery outlook.