Fueled by all-night drug-and-booze binges and built around a seriously depressed central character, “Burnt Eden” plays as a companion piece to “Leaving Las Vegas” and focuses on the same sort of nocturnal, underground universe. But the first feature from Montreal helmer Eugene Garcia has little new to add to the familiar turf of coke dependence and youthful alienation. The innovative, gritty visuals are more impressive than the story, which fails to break beyond genre boundaries. Low-budget offering could elicit interest from upcoming festivals, but will likely garner only modest returns when Film Tonic launches it in Canada in the fall. Broader commercial prospects look dim.
Ivan (Romano Orzari) is a twentysomething night owl with a taste for elicit substances, alcoholic beverages and long, meandering conversations about the rather sorry state of his life. Early on, he meets up with his pal Mike (Ivaylo Founev) and they hit the town, which, in their case, entails scoring some dope and then retiring to Mike’s station wagon to do lines, suck back a few beers and ruminate on the meaning of life
Then Ivan is off to see his g.f., Marisa (Marisa Malone), immediately telling her that he’s blown all his cash, a state of affairs that clearly doesn’t surprise her. Their relationship is not going that great either: She is seeing other guys on the side, and he’s not keen on committing himself.
Much of the action revolves around Ivan’s near-continual quest for narcotic stimulation and his consumption of the goods once he finds them. He begins hanging out with another woman, Rachel (Brea Asher), his problems with Marisa intensify, and eventually they split up.
Garcia’s writing is clearly straight from the heart, and the authenticity provides a powerful emotional punch. But the way the film chronicles Ivan’s various addictions and his ongoing conflict with his lover simply isn’t original enough to sustain interest. Orzari is believable in the lead role, with the requisite grungy intensity, while the other thesps are not particularly distinguished.
Pic has cool look thanks to frequent use of jump-cuts, speeded-up film sequences and evocative nighttime lensing by Salvatore Barrera. The soundtrack contributes to the hip veneer with mix of electronic tracks, discordant sounds and bopping dance-floor rhythms.