Synopsis: The owner of a Paris jazz club gets tangled up with dangerous criminals as he fights to protect his business, his band and his teenage daughter.
Format: Eight episodes – On Netflix from May 8
Cast: André Holland, Amandla Stenberg, Joanna Kulig, Leila Bekhti, Tahar Rahim, Adil Dehbi, Benjamin Biolay, Tchéky Karyo, Randy Kerber, Jowee Omicil, Ludovic Louis, Damian Nueva, Lada Obradovic
Directors: Damien Chazelle (episodes 1 & 2), Houda Benyamina (episodes 3 & 4), Laila Marrakchi (episodes 5 & 6), Alan Poul (episodes 7 & 8)
Writer: Jack Thorne
The world-famous Eiffel Tower is glimpsed once in Netflix’s new series, The Eddy. A series which takes place in and around Paris, but very purposely wants to move the focus from the more romantic nature of the city. Paris, Je T’aime this is not. Instead, The Eddy introduces grounded, layered individuals living in Paris’s rougher neighbours where graffiti skids the side of walkways and all the glitz and glam you’ve come to expect from the Paris presented to you in mainstream cinema is gone.
At the centre of the show is The Eddy itself, a jazz club, where a band called The Eddy plays which is run by two figureheads. Elliot (Andre Holland), who handles the music and band with a sour, serious grip and Farid (Tahar Rahim) who handles the business side with an exuberant love for life. Farid has less care for the perfectionist inside Elliot when it comes to the band’s music and performance, but you quickly get an understanding of their relationship in the first episode. Even if you do wonder how these two seemingly polar opposite people could be business partners.
The Eddy does introduce a large cast quickly. Many of whom get their own narratives slowly unravelled as the series progresses, but Elliot is where the main thread is spun through the first season.
In the first episode, we learn that Farid is unfortunately not as great at handling the money side of the business and has gotten mixed up with several criminals in an attempt to keep the club going. Allowing drugs to be sold inside for a cut is just the start of the pile of bad decisions Farid has made. Elliot is moved into the position of solving this problem, even if it’s not what his day-to-day duties normally entailed. He quickly gets wrapped up in a plot that involves the Ukrainian mob and a thrilling twist of events that has him racing against the clock to save his club from destruction.
Elliot’s normal day would seem to consist of writing music for The Eddy and meticulously and aggressively attempting to mould the band into playing and singing his material better. To which the band allows him to do because Elliot Udo was once a famed jazz musician himself, but one who now refuses to play music for reasons that are explored as the season progresses.
The person who cops the most amount of fire from Elliot’s rage is Maja (Joanna Kulig), the leads vocals for The Eddy. She has also recently broken up with Elliot. It’s a seemingly toxic relationship from the get-go and within the first couple episodes, it’s hard not to wonder why anyone sticks around Elliot as he berates everyone around him. The man is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Of course, there’s more to Elliot and reasons to drive this aggressive attitude that makes him all the more intriguing to watch as the series continues towards the end of its eight-episode first season.
Elliot’s daughter, Julie (Amandla Stenberg) arrives in Paris direct from New York where she had been living with her mother. There’s a story to that. Julie is headstrong with little care for schooling and quickly begins ditching classes and adding to Elliot’s ever giving-way shoulders. It’s when she meets Sim (Adil Dehbi) that she finds someone to grab onto in Paris. Their romance doesn’t fall into the magical Hollywood romance and splendour of Paris either, so don’t be fooled. There are no late-night conversations as the music plays in the background and fireworks explode over Arc de Triomphe. Julie is just as headstrong as her father and equally explosive when she wants to be.
The Eddy is written by Jack Thorne who’s work on Skins and This Is England is most noticeable here. He weaves in romantic-teen drama, with the melodramatic and crime-story elements with ease. Each episode begins with a sub-title for whom the episode is focused on and that too, reminds me of Skins. What is new for Thorne here, is the music. And The Eddy contains a lot of music – to the point it may become too much for anyone who can’t stand jazz.
Damien Chazelle directs the first two episodes and although his whimsical and magically style from La La Land is most definitely not on show here, his ability to capture the aggressive story that music can tell is. The Eddy is more in-line with his work on Whiplash and the camera work in the first two episodes captures the frenetic energy of live performances.
All the music in The Eddy was captured live on-set with all the actors in The Eddy playing their instruments and it makes for a much more engaging experience. It lets Chazelle introduce us to the club with a several minute one-shot that brings the show to life with an almost documentarian feeling.