Friday Film Review--"Eiffel"
This week’s film is Eiffel, as in the big tower in the heart of Paris. The French landmark beloved across the world and adored as an iconic symbol of romance finally gets its due as the leading lady in a feature film, as opposed to merely a supporting role in someone else’s love story. Or does it?
French Director Martin Bourboulon reportedly wanted to give France their Titanic, their Shakespeare in Love. So rather than focus purely on the history, politics, and complexity of the engineering feat, which by all accounts are fascinating, Bourboulon adds a fictional love triangle to the backstory of why the famous engineer Gustav Eiffel changed his mind and agreed to build a tower for the 1889 World Fair, after initially declining. Eiffel had recently completed the base of the Statute of Liberty for the New York harbor, and he was eager to pursue a transportation metro system, which, as a project for the masses, he felt was a more appropriate way to acknowledge the 100 year Anniversary of the French Revolution. Over 100 artists were vying to represent France in the opening selection. Eiffel felt a temporary tower too ornament and a waste, as well as concerned the effort would face criticism as mere self-adulation. To this day, the reason why Eiffel changed his mind remains a mystery. But this is Paris, and at the heart of all inspiration must lie a love story so Director Bourboulon and writer Caroline Bongrand embellish upon a real encounter from Eiffel’s early career where he fell in love and proposed to young aristocrat, Adrienne Bourges, only to be blocked by a protective father who didn’t feel the engineer was high society enough for his daughter. The story ends there in real life but the film resurrects the relationship when Adrienne turns up many years later at the very dinner where Gustav intends to pitch his metro idea to the French Transportation Minister. His passion and inspiration instantly reignited by Adrienne, Gustav does an about face and proclaims he will pursue not only a tower, but the tallest structure in the world to showcase France’s capability and the skill and pride of the working class who would help produce the monument and have full access to it.
Actors Romain Duris and Emma Mackey are hotter than a blow torch playing the engineer and socialite in love. Unfortunately, even via the language of love, their romance translates as merely a forced and an unnecessary construct to propel a storyline that could have more than held its own by sticking to the engineering and politics.
So, on my ski trail rating system, Eiffel earns my intermediate Blue Square rating. The grand production quality, stellar acting and occasional glimpses of technical marvel more than justify a trip to the theater to see Eiffel on the big screen. However, abrupt editing and the contrived romance detract from the marvel of the real stories behind one of the world’s most beloved symbols of love and human ingenuity.
Eiffel is rated R for nudity and gratuitous scar tissue.