'The Eddy' Review: Compelling performances and stunning soundtrack tie together several convoluted storylines
Netflix's 'The Eddy' centers around Elliot Udo (André Holland) and his struggle to keep the titular jazz club in the heart of Paris afloat amidst.
While each episode of the show focuses on one of its leads, Elliot serves as the central character, an ex-musician who now works as a band manager and writer after leaving his family behind in New York following the death of his son and divorce from his wife to start a jazz club in France with his friend, Farid (Tahar Rahim). The show's plot revolves around Elliot's increasingly desperate attempts to keep 'The Eddy' from going under and features several subplots that center around the relationships Elliot has with those around him.
The first major relationship in Elliot's life is the one he shares with Farid who meets a tragic end very early on owing to him being hunted by debt collectors. Despite only being on the show for one episode, Rahim manages to make his character wonderfully endearing and that makes his murder gutwrenching even if we only knew him for an hour.
Farid's passing soon causes the cracks in Elliot's life to break wide open. His club and band start to fall apart and he slowly finds himself descending into paranoia that he or his loved ones are next on the hit list. And when Julie goes missing one night his fear leads him to reveal Farid's back-alley dealings to detectives and getting himself wrongfully accused and arrested, embroiling him in the investigations into Farid's death and taking him away from his daughter when she needs him the most.
Elliot's stunted relationship with his 16-year-old daughter Julie (Amandla Stenberg) and his relationship with Maja (Joanna Kulig), the lead singer of his club's band, also serve as major influences on the story.
Julie, a young musician herself, deals with the trials and tribulations that go with being a teenager in a new city, all while trying to come to terms with past sexual trauma and dealing with self-destructive behaviors, including alcohol and drug addictions. When Julie's life explodes in her face, she finds solace in Maja and Farid's widow Amira (played by Rahim's wife Leïla Bekhti), who respectively act as the friend and parental figure that Julie has been sorely lacking in her life.
Additionally, Julie also finds herself tending to a tumultuous romance with a server at her father's club named Sim (Adil Dehbi), an Algerian-French Muslim youngster and aspiring musician, who finally gets his shot playing at 'The Eddy'. Eventually, in an act of self-affirmation, Julie allows her natural hair to grow out and begins a relationship with Sim before finally moving back in with her father, while Maja and the band begin to find their stride again after several average performances before finally getting signed to a label.
With all the story arcs finding a natural resolution, the only one remaining is the overarching plot that connected all these stories together: Elliot's desperate attempts to keep his failing club from crashing and burning.
The debt collector threatening Elliot and Amira is revealed to be a man named Zivko (Alexis Manenti) who was using the club to launder counterfeit bills for an organization led by a crimelord named Sami (Dhafer L'Abidine) who employs increasingly violent methods to try and force Elliot and Amira to sign him on as a partner for 'The Eddy', including leaving Zivko's corpse outside the club and hurling a Molotov cocktail through the top floor office's window. As the series winds to a close, Elliot finally agrees to Sami's deal, vowing to Amira that he will bring Farid's murderer down - a story for another season, it would appear.
Visually, 'The Eddy' favors one-shot long takes and combined with the cooler tones that dictate its color palette, this creates a feeling of a drawn-out ordeal. This beautifully sets up the show for its various themes, since you already sense the characters' are struggling right off the bat and thus empathize with the choices they make, even if some of them lead to predictably disastrous results. 'The Eddy', despite having so many different plots happening all at once, somehow manages to also be exceptionally slow-paced and cohesive, which often makes for some riveting drama.
The show also features a combination of diverse and multicultural actors and musicians and thus includes several gorgeous musical numbers, many of which blend American and Parisian jazz with traditional Algerian music, giving us one of the best soundtracks to come out of a show in recent times.
In addition to cultural, ethnic, and religious representation, 'The Eddy' has beautifully written and well-developed characters and touches on a wide range of topics including opioid addiction, heartbreak, sexual assault, miscarriage, racism, gay relationships, the struggles of musicians looking for work, and familial disputes, with music punctuating each of these experiences and being the thread that links them all together seamlessly. At its heart, this is a show that documents the hardships people endure just to make their dreams come true, pointing to how daily life can often get in the way of that journey.
All in all, 'The Eddy' is a multilingual musical family and crime drama, which despite sometimes being difficult to follow does still manage to tell a compelling story, even if it isn't always a fully immersive experience.