Eden à l'Ouest (Eden Is West)

Critics Consensus

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86%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 7

64%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 677
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Movie Info

One man's dogged search for freedom and a better life leads him on a picaresque journey in this comedy-drama from celebrated filmmaker Costa-Gavras. Elias (Ricardo Scamarcio) is a young man from a nameless country in the Mediterranean who has tossed away his passport and paid a smuggler a handsome fee to be hidden inside a ship making its way to Europe. When immigration authorities stage a surprise inspection, Elias jumps ship along with a number of other unauthorized passengers, and hours later he washed up on the clothes-optional beach of a luxury resort on the Southern coast of France. Wearing tattered clothes amidst folks who wear designer originals when they bother to dress at all, dogged by hunger while guess nibble at lavish open buffets, and presumed to be a laborer by the few guests who pay attention to him, Elias is a stranger in a very strange land as he tries to avoid immigration police and survive in a place where he can't speak the local language. Elias stumbles into a brief affair with Christina (Juliane Köhler), a German tourist looking for kicks, but he fares better when he meets Nick Nickelby (Ulrich Tukur), a traveling magician who gives Elias a job as a temporary assistant and invites him to visit him in Paris. When Nickelby moves on, Elias decides to make his way to the fabled city, which is the beginning of a long and sometimes dangerous journey though class-conscious Europe. Eden à l'ouest (aka Eden Is West) was screened at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival only a few days after its world premiere, appropriately held in Paris.

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Critic Reviews for Eden à l'Ouest (Eden Is West)

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (2) | Fresh (6) | Rotten (1)

  • The tension is always between Costa-Gavras's dark view of human nature and his main character's hopes for the future. It's an uneven battle, although the film has enough strong and thoughtful moments to make you wish it was better.

    Aug 21, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • The brightest, most-entertaining film of [Costas-Gavras'] illustrious career.

    Aug 21, 2009 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • A mediocre film.

    Mar 8, 2014 | Rating: C | Full Review…
  • The tone of the film, despite some pretty hard living, remains warm with flashes of magic realism. This works against our expectations for this kind of road movie, and may seem too saccharine for some. I enjoyed the journey.

    Aug 21, 2009 | Full Review…
  • Costa-Gavras scores a few telling points -- about the callous crassness of privileged tourists, for example -- but whatever his intentions, the end product is essentially a rattling good yarn.

    Aug 21, 2009 | Full Review…
  • Director Costa-Gavras takes his own story as a Greek immigrant living in Paris to inject a personal touch to the story in which handsome Riccardo Scamarcio's asylum seeker Elias finds nothing but the unexpected as he looks for a new life

    Aug 17, 2009 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Eden à l'Ouest (Eden Is West)

  • Apr 05, 2010
    I loved this and I can't explain why!
    Anastasia B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 08, 2009
    The story of this film begins at dawn over a stunning Aegean sea, introducing a mythic note that will underlie the entire film. When the Coast Guard confiscates the tub, Elias (Scamarcio) is one of the brave lads who jumps (jump to freedom) into the dark waters and swims ashore. He awakens on the beach which is part of the luxurious Hotel Eden. Mistaken for a hotel employee, he mutely wanders around, fighting off the sexual attentions of the hotel manager, until a lonely lady from Hamburg (Juliane Kohler) takes him into her bed. Though it sounds like farce, this is is all played straight to show the decadent West assaulting the shocked innocent. Because of the police Elias leaves this artificial Western paradise and strikes out for a mythical Paris, where he hopes to find a stage magician who has befriended him. On the road to his paradise, he passes through some very interesting advendures.. Director Costas Gavras has always been strong on social commitment and he is responsible for some of the most revered and influential films in the history of modern political cinema He was directed memorable films like "Z" (foreign language Oscar), "Missing" (Cannes Palme d'Or) and "Music Box" (Berlin Golden Bear). I think it's not surprising he would choose to explore Europe's currently gigantic socio-political problem, though at this point the immigrant genre is so overworked in European cinema it should probably be banned for the next five years. It's an episodic film, a journey, not of an individual, but of all those people who, as the director comments ?have to leave in order to survive.It is like a number of Costa-Gavras?s films in that it concentrates on a human rights/social justice issue, not so much on characters, plot or aesthetic. And as someone who identifies as a ?cultural and economic immigrant,? Gavras has inside knowledge of this experience. Also in this film Gavras is eager to flex the funny bone he showed in Mad City and The Ax, delivering the brightest, most-entertaining film of his illustrious career.
    Arianeta L Super Reviewer

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