Beth Dewey’s ERASING EDEN follows the title character as she awakens on the morning of her wedding day from a drinking blackout after downing an entire bottle of scotch. Alone, beaten, with a broken jaw, the victim of a probable sexual assault with no memory of what happened, she limps and stumbles back into the city of Los Angeles facing obstacle upon obstacle as she gamely tries to get her life back in order within hours in order to seek medical attention, get her dress, clean up, and get transportation to the beachside wedding location. After getting her jaw wired shut at a clinic, she is unable to speak, with no money, and no easy way to reach anyone, or get a ride home. While all of this is happening, we hear voice messages she sent to herself that offer clues as to her actions – namely that she has been self-sabotaging making it to the altar due to her lack of faith in herself and fear of being outed as a fraud to her prospective husband and their friends.
ERASING EDEN is a micro-budgeted indie film that offers the stripped down trappings of a story and an all-but literal and figurative stripped down protagonist as well. We watch a young woman go through what amounts to an emotional and physical obstacle course in downtown L.A. just to get to her home, while trying to piece together what we can as to what motivated her to put herself in this position in the first place and what is now motivating her to try and overcome those doubts and self-loathing to say “I do” when all signs point to the idea that “she doesn’t.” We also are privy to scenes of her fiancé Chris desperately trying to reach her and track her down with serious concern as to her whereabouts and safety.
The combination of Dewey’s script and direction and a spare, but affecting, performance by Brenda Wool, make for an intriguing and sometime harrowing journey with Eden. The question with a film like this is always centered around how much we care about the character that everything hinges on – that the entire film is about. And Dewey and Wool also not only don’t “show their cards” too early, but are non-compromising with Eden’s behavior and drive. They don’t want us to let her off the hook, even as we follow her progress, because she clearly is not letting herself off the hook. That, ultimately, is what gives the film a special bent and makes ERASING EDEN a compelling watch: just like Eden, maybe we would rather she pass on these nuptials and find her peace elsewhere.