Thank you to Netflix for allowing me to watch and review this show!
This is a running review, as after each episode I will write about that episode until I finish the series. Each “Episode Review” will be my immediate thoughts following the episode, and the “Series Review” at the bottom will be my thoughts on the show as a whole.
Stars: Andre Holland, Amandla Stenberg
Synopsis: A French club owner struggles with the chaos of owning a live music joint in the heart of Paris.
This is how you start a show. The French/English hybrid caught me off guard for a second, but once you get into the show it doesn’t matter. Directed by Damien Chazelle, and you can definitely tell, this episode really gets you into the heart of this story right from the jump. We meet the important characters quickly, and from then on it is just us living in their world. The acting from Andre Holland is great in this. You feel so much of his struggles through so little words. The “mob/debt” scenario might be overused, but they still manage to shock. The final 20-30 minutes of this episode creates an ambience of pure pain hidden behind melodic notes. This is Jazz, and this is what made Jazz so powerful during its time. This is what Sebastian fought so hard for, and Chazelle is doing his best to save Jazz. With more powerful stuff like this, he very well may do so.
What Chazelle does so well is showing that the instruments that make music can sometimes be more important than the people playing them. This look into Julie’s world goes all over the place at times, but the wonderful performance by Amandla Stenberg and the continued greatness from Andre Holland is enough to keep you wanting more. Much more backstory is added in this one than in the first episode, and Adil Dehbi shines bright in this second episode.
Easily the saddest episode so dar, and for good reason. This again doubles down on the chaos of life and jazz in such a beautiful and stressful way. Many characters are given the chance to bear it all, while introducing some new ones as well. A very solid episode with tons of emotional beats.
This one hit hard at times. An honest look at lost love and acceptance, but also pain and sadness. Damien Nueva gets his time to shine and hits the mark. It is still kind of hard trying to keep up with so many storylines, but the show is doing a good job of maintaining the heart of the story. A scene in this episode where the band plays a classical jazz number and the people running the venue says, “Play the list, not this elevator music”, which is one of Damien Chazelle’s biggest gripes with why people hate jazz. Not as strong as the rest so far, but still enough.
Elliot is absolutely scrambling to keep at least a little bit of his life together as really everything is falling apart around him. This episode allows for some time to breathe from all of the emotions and brings a sweet and honest relationship to the forefront, which is something Elliot has been needing. The issues with his daughter still confuse me, but I do like where she is at right now. This episode also was the first one to really show there will be real consequences.
Sim’s episode is built on recollection and coming to grips with everything going on. I understand Sim’s reasoning for being secretive, but don’t think he necessarily had to be. However, this parallel with Elliot is one of the driving factors of the episode. Adil Dehbi continues to be a strong player, and one of the people I feel for the most.
The show is beginning to tie things up, and is doing a decent job at it. The layering plots are coming together in a strong way. I have really enjoyed the way that the episodes are geared around a song, some of them might be more hectic than others, and some might be softer than others. Nonetheless, I think the biggest takeaway from the show is how jazz is really everywhere and in everything we do. One episode left.
E8: The Eddy
I would lie if I said I wasn’t just a tad underwhelmed, but even so, the episode was still strong in almost every aspect. This is about rediscovering yourself after terrible circumstances.
There is a moment in Damien Chazelle’s La La Land where the main character, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), attempts to explain why jazz matters. This show was Chazelle’s attempt to answer that question, and for the most part, he hit the notes. The Eddy plays out like a jazz concert, with each character getting their own solo amongst the midsts of the overall song. They hit their own notes and own beats in order to make jazz… jazz.
These different plots and layering of stories can get confusing at times, and even more complex at others. There are moments where you aren’t sure if you are even following the same story that was started. I think it does get chaotic, but I also think it is intentional. Each character gets their own moment to shine in the spotlight and tell their story through the world of jazz.
What this show is really about is pain, and learning to deal with the pain. Each of these characters has different painful experiences that lead them to jazz music, and each of these characters is, in a way, saved by the music they play. They have a strong connection and feel to the notes and melodies that exit their instruments, and as an audience, you really start to feel that. All of the acting in this show is top-notch and is lead by brilliant performances from Andre Holland, Amandla Stenberg, and my breakout of the show Adil Dehbi.
Chazelle’s work behind the camera is also captured in such a Chazelle way, where you can truly see his style of filmmaking on the screen. He gets very intimate with not only the characters, but their instruments as well. One thing I loved so much about this show was the fact that Chazelle gave just as much screen time to the instruments as he did the performers during the musical scenes. Basically showing that a performer could not perform if he didn’t have the instrument. Some of his normal stylistic choices may have gotten a bit repetitive over the course of 8 hour long episodes, but they never got bland or stale.
I think this one goes without saying, but the music was fantastic as well. You know with a Chazelle project, the music is going to be good, but this had to take it up another level. There was a continuous need for music, and to stylize each song around a specific person. It was an interesting and clever way of getting the overarching message of jazz across the table.
There were episodes that just did not feel as fresh as some of the others. In my eyes, the first episode was far and away the best one, because at this point you were still only following one story. This also is a show that forces the audience to work. Some might enjoy that, while other may watch a few episodes and turn away. Nonetheless, if you give it a shot and allow yourself to really become engulfed into the music and the jazz, I think you will find pleasure in making it through a show like this.
The Eddy blends cool and chaotic jazz beats into a story that follows suit. Every episode plays out like a different jazz song, and everyone in the show is given their time to shine. Andre Holland and Amandla Stenberg are wonderful and Adil Dehbi is the breakout of the series. Chezelle really knows how to get his style across and in such a powerful way for any audience. It does get hectic and sometimes overbearing, but so does jazz in general, and Chazelle doesn’t shy away from that fact. A very solid show, and very solid work from Chazelle and the rest of the crew.
ON NETFLIX MAY 8
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.