It's a flippant comparison to say that "Erasing Eden," written and directed by Beth Dewey, combines themes from "The Hangover" and "Runaway Bride," but those big Hollywood films provide the cinematic touchstones for this moody, lyrical indie about a bride-to-be (Breeda Wool) who wakes up — beaten to a pulp — in the desert on her wedding day. Jettisoning any lightness about the scenario, "Erasing Eden" plunges into the danger and gravity of the situation headfirst.
Eden's jaw is broken, and unable to speak, she's incredibly vulnerable. We follow her journey as she relies on the tiny kindnesses of strangers to make it one inch further along the way.
Her jaw is wired shut at a hospital, and we mostly hear from her in personal voice memos she had recorded for herself, filled with encouragement and affirmations. It's a keen device to illustrate the mental and emotional struggles with the reality of her impending wedding day that led her down this path. It's an otherwise wordless performance from Wool, who is a compelling and committed actor.
"Erasing Eden" is an exploration of self-sabotage and destruction that makes vague gestures toward the self-empowerment found in personal choice, but those morals are lost in the downright disturbing and degrading gauntlet Eden has to walk through to find herself. With so much focus on the darkness, it's hard to embrace the eventual light.
Running time: 1 hour, 16 minutes
Playing: Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood