Great Idea, Average Execution
By Liselotte Vanophem
When thinking about France, the Eiffel Tower is probably the first aspect that pops into your head, followed closely by croissants and stylish fashion. The most famous tower has been providing millions of tourists and locals with a stunning view since 1889, and it’s undoubtedly one of the most famous landmarks of Paris and France.
But what do you know about the man behind the mythic statue? Apart from that his name is Eiffel, not much (or at least we didn’t). The tower itself has been in the spotlight many times, and now it’s time to give Eiffel the attention he deserves with “Eiffel”, the latest movie from director Martin Bourboulon (“Divorce French Style”, “Daddy or Mommy”). Will the film reach the same heights as the tower, or does it waver?
You might think the Eiffel Tower is Eiffel’s only work, but that’s not true. Before gracing us with one of the most photographed spots in Paris, he (Romain Duris) made the Statue of Liberty. While being at the top of his game, he gets the chance to go to the Paris World Fair. His assignment is to build a gigantic tower, but Eiffel wants to go to the fair with his construction of the metro network.
Despite being headstrong about that metro idea, he quickly changes his mind when he meets his old love Adrienne (Emma Mackey), during a fancy dinner with beneficiaries. He wants to impress her by building the giant tower of Paris. This incredibly ambitious architect takes on his biggest project ever, but that doesn’t come without any obstacles.
Through flashbacks, we learn more about the relationship between Eiffel and Adrienne, and while the events happened in the past, they still substantially impact their future together. Eiffel also has to deal with the displeasure of the Parisians and the fear of his working men. How will he cope with all of this while achieving his goal?
Writer Caroline Bongrand (“Parlez-moi d’amour”) based what seemed an entirely fictional story on a forbidden love that blossomed during the making of the Eiffel Tower. But, to her surprise, she discovered some of those fictional events really happened. Therefore this movie became one that is based on facts but also one that doesn’t give you the true story. But what does the film provides us with? Well, a mixed-bag, really.
The biggest issue of this movie is, without a doubt, the storyline. Not because of the mixture of real-life and fictional aspects but because the suspenseful element is missing massively. We all know that the construction of the Eiffel Tower has been a success and therefore the writer and director needed another exciting angle.
They decided that a forbidden love would do the trick, and we certainly agree. However, they don’t bring that relationship perfectly to life. While Duris and Mackey have great chemistry, their tense moments are interrupted way too many times. The flashbacks (which are supposed to bring tension but do the exact opposite) and the highly familiar storyline of parents not approving of their daughter’s lover make this movie too predictable and confusing. While the forbidden love aspect certainly isn’t a bad idea, the execution isn’t on-point whatsoever.
Luckily, we can count on beautiful acting performances and impressive cinematography. From their first scene together, Duris and Mackey hit it off perfectly. “Eiffel” is the first non-English performance by Mackey (“The Winter Lake”, “ Death on the Nile “), and we have to applaud her stunning performance.
She instantly captivates you with one look as she shows many emotions. Her performance heightens the emotional and secretive aspects of the relationship between Adrienne, her chosen husband and Eiffel. Casting Duris (“ Final Cut “, “Waiting for Bojangles”) as Eiffel was one of the best decisions for this movie. He emerges himself into Eiffel, and his performance reflects that. From portraying a smitten and totally in love Eiffel to the angry, desperate and stubborn architect.
When it comes to visuals and cinematography, we can’t complain. Yes, there’s an abundance of CGI, but the scenes are beautifully and amazingly done. For example, the Eiffel Tower looks extremely impressive and when cinematographer Matias Boucard (“The Odyssey”, “Don’t Grow Up”) shows you the whole of Paris from one of the platforms levels of the Eiffel Tower, you get a break-taking view and one of the most romantic scenes of the movie.
It’s clear that “Eiffel” wants to be the Francophone version of “Romeo and Juliet”, “Titanic”, or “Shakespeare in Love”, but the movie doesn’t come close to one of those films. While we see gorgeous and touching performances and magnificent cinematography, the unbalanced and all-over-the-place script takes away a lot of the beauty of this movie.
“Eiffel” will be released in UK and Irish cinemas on the 12 thof August
Originally published at https://www.ocmoviereviews.com.