The stories I enjoy the most, outside of superheroes defeating a guy with a gem-encrusted hand glove, are character studies. Specifically stories of imperfect people having to overcome big obstacles in their lives. Or as Pee Wee Herman once asked, “Tell me about your big butte.” For many of us, there is that time in your life when you transitioned squarely into adulthood.
For bride-to-be Eden (Breeda Wool), she describes herself as “master of self-sabotage” in Beth Dewey’s feature film, Erasing Eden. Long before her wedding, Eden recorded voice messages to herself as a reminder that she deserves good things in her life and be truthful to who she is. These messages are played back throughout the film.
You see, it’s the night before her wedding to Christopher (Ben Rovner) and Eden is experiencing severe anxiety about her big life-altering day. She turns to alcohol…lots of it…as a way to cope and the next morning Eden finds herself in the middle of the desert, just outside of Los Angeles. Beaten, bruised, jaw broken and left for dead, can Eden make it to the beach by evening for her wedding ceremony.
“…the next morning Eden finds herself in the middle of the desert, just outside of Los Angeles. Beaten, bruised, jaw broken and left for dead…”
It is at this point, you ask yourself, “Why doesn’t she…?” The big one being, why doesn’t she call her fiancé, friends, or family to come to rescue her? I would if I were her. But that’s the point, I’m not her. To me, the rest of the film plays out as authentic, only because I’ve known people who self-sabotage. Friends, who are on the cusp of finding real happiness in their lives only to intentionally/unintentionally and irreparably ruin that chance forever. Believe me, you can only tell them “snap out of it” so many times.
This is Eden’s “last chance” at a new life. Rather than wallow in her own self-pity, she’s determined to make her wedding. The problem is she’s dehydrated, concussed, and can’t speak because of her broken jaw. She hobbles to a local town only to be accused of being a “meth-head.” No one is exactly wanting to help her. Her other problem is that she refuses to allow anyone, including herself, to contact her friends for help.
Meanwhile, for Chris and family, it’s their wedding day and Eden has gone missing. Absolutely no one knows where she is. For Chris, this is a crisis-of-faith moment, because he knows who he’s marrying and he wonders if Eden’s let her nature get the best of her.
“…Wool gives an exhausting performance in a good way as Eden…puts herself through the physical wringer, only to be shoved through an emotional one…”
Most of the film is Eden’s adventure as she tries to make it to the wedding on time. Along the way, she undergoes dental surgery, is dumped off in L.A. Skid Row in a hospital gown, and winds up at a revival meeting of sorts. None of these moments are played for laughs as Eden refuses to give up. For once, she’s going to fight for her future.
As I stated earlier, I love a good character study and Erasing Eden is a good one for sure. We don’t know why Eden is this way, only that she is. Childhood abuse, abandonment issues, trauma, no reason is offered. This can be frustrating for the viewer, who’s screaming “why doesn’t she just pick up a damn phone.” Sure that would be the easy fix, but then that would spoil the insightful ending in store for Eden that ultimately plays out at the end. It’s an ending to fits the character study of Eden.
Breeda Wool gives an exhausting performance in a good way as Eden. She first puts herself through the physical wringer, only to be shoved through an emotional one later on. Kudos to writer/director Beth Dewer and co-writer Justo Diaz for not taking the easy route with their story. Erasing Eden’s story is not for everyone. Sometimes I wanted to quit in the same way I almost (and actually) gave up on my friends like Eden. But it pays off in the end if you open your heart and stick it out.
Erasing Eden (2016) Directed by Beth Dewey. Written by Beth Dewey, Justo Diaz. Starring Breeda Wool, Ben Rovner.
7 out of 10 stars