Directed by: Martin Bourboulon | 109 minutes | biography, drama | Actors: Romain Duris, Emma Mackey, Pierre Deladonchamps, Armande Boulanger, Bruno Raffaelli, Alexandre Steiger, Andranic Manet, Philippe Hérisson, Stéphane Boucher, Jérémy Lopez, Damien Zanoly, Sophie Fougère, Joseph Rezwin, Jérémie Petrus
The monument that inescapably symbolizes the French city of Paris is the Eiffel Tower. Built in 1898 and named after Gustave Eiffel, this tower attracts approximately 7 million visitors worldwide every year. While Paris is often referred to as the city of love, the Eiffel Tower is often the meeting point of lovers; not only in real life but also in countless movies. ‘Eiffel’ takes you back to the origins of this tower, considering the theory that it is dedicated to Adrienne (Emma Mackey), an old lover of Gustave (Romain Duris).
The film is based on real facts, not a true story. Writer Caroline Bongrand presented her idea to a producer about a forbidden love story during the construction of the Eiffel Tower. When the production of the film was accepted, she discovered that there was a grain of truth in her idea. This resulted in a film about a young love that really existed and a fictitious recurring love during the creation of Gustave Eiffel’s most famous work. Producer Laura van Zuylen hoped to create a ‘French Titanic’ with this.
Although it is difficult to compare a sinking boat with the construction of an iron tower, the connection is not entirely inconceivable. The beautiful image of the construction site with only the four single legs, gives the same atmosphere under sunset as the last sunset as in ‘Titanic’ (James Cameron, 1999). The film also contains the same kind of tension, in which a catastrophic disaster does not seem to be lurking far around the corner. After all, the construction of the tallest structure in the world is not without danger. It is therefore endearing to see how much Gustave cares about his employers in the film and how he cares about their safety.
Especially the acting of Emma Mackey, who is known from the English Netflix series ‘Sex Education’ (Laurie Nunn, 2019), is worthy of praise. Without saying much, she can show many emotions through her eyes. This talent adds an extra layer to the tension between Adrienne, her husband and Gustave in their love triangle. Not much effort has gone into making her look twenty years older, but that doesn’t get in the way of her.
The love story itself, on the other hand, is not as strong as the one in ‘Titanic’. Gustave and Adrienne have a past that is not immediately released. So the reason for their 20-year break is a mystery that is slowly unraveling. It is especially during this unraveling that the bit of ‘forbidden’ love doesn’t feel completely forbidden. That erodes the credibility of their split and fuels the question: why is their flame still burning after all this time? It helps that there is enough chemistry between the two lovers, because that makes ‘Eiffel’ a wonderful romantic film to swoon over.