Erasing Eden (2016)

It’s easy to see where director Beth Dewey draws her influences from as “Erasing Eden” is very much a modern successor to “Five Easy Pieces.” Rather than the story of a well off young man, “Erasing Eden” centers on a young woman with everything who is prepared to destroy it all. For what reason? Even she doesn’t know, as she spends so much of “Erasing Eden” setting off a series of catastrophic events and reluctantly trying to reverse them in order to make it to her own wedding.

Young Eden is set to marry who she thinks is the perfect man, and spends the night before her wedding looking for a way to kill her anxiety about the wedding. The next day she awakens in the desert with a concussion, a broken jaw, and no idea how she got there in the first place. Desperate to change her habits for self sabotage, she struggles to make it to the wedding, being dropped in the middle of Skid Row, and encountering gang members, reformed addicts, alike. Can she make it in time? If so, is it what she really wants out of life?

Director Beth Dewey’s drama is shockingly darker than I originally imagined, as it takes so many dreary turns thematically and narratively. Beth spends her night before her wedding looking for a way to kill her anxiety with alcohol, and after a night of drinking awakens in a desert. She has a head injury, a broken jaw, and now has to make it back to her wedding. Much of what Eden endures is so emotionally draining, but it’s also what can be expected by someone so prone to self sabotage. Even Eden doesn’t seem too surprised by the predicament she lands herself in, as often times she looks like it’s only something that was bound to happen. Eden is a mysterious protagonist, a young woman who is teeming with doubt, regret, and anxiety, and brands herself as someone who self sabotages.

She even sends messages of affirmation over her phone to trick herself \in to believing getting married is what we wants. What’s so fascinating is that writer Dewey never really delves in to why Eden is the way she is. Sometimes it’s never as simple as why. People just are. It could be fear of failure, fear of success, trauma of some kind. We may never know, all we know about Eden in the end is she’s determined to sabotage any hope at happiness that she doesn’t think she’s earned. Breeda Wool’s performance as Eden is compelling in how painful just brutal the character wallows in her own self sabotage and reluctance from beginning to end, and we’re never quite sure what brings it on. “Erasing Eden” isn’t life affirming, but it’s mesmerizing in how it delves in to ideas of self sabotage and self abuse.