Told very loosely based on true events EIFFEL about how a love affair influenced the construction of the Eiffel Tower. Exciting material. And we’ll reveal in our review whether this fictionalized piece of history is convincing.
OT: Eiffel (FR/BEL/DE 2021)
The Paris World Exhibition of 1889 cast its shadow ahead. The French government has big plans: it would like to have the world’s tallest structure built to mark the occasion. Their favorite candidate to design this record-breaking project is the celebrated engineer Gustave Eiffel (Romain Duris). But the pragmatist actually wants to design the metro. But the pressure from his environment and a reunion with his long-lost childhood sweetheart Adrienne Bourgès (Emma Mackey) make Eiffel rethink…
Historical films that are based on true events but allow a lot of artistic freedom can be characterized by the following scheme: If the emotions conveyed only by the storytelling and acting created by the filmmakers are gripping during the fictionalized, dramatized story, then everything is fine . But if it is not this element that shines, but rather the bare facts interspersed throughout the film that maintain interest in it, then the strict question is justified: “Why am I watching a feature film about this topic? And not a documentary?!”
Adrienne Bourgès (Emma Mackey) has piqued Gustave Eiffel’s interest.
At least this is exactly what happened to the author of these lines during the press screening of “Eiffel in Love”. The French production focuses on the little-known love life of the engineer Gustave Eiffel, dramatized and exaggerated for the big screen, specifically on a childhood love that unexpectedly played a role for him again during the planning and construction phase of the Paris landmark. However, throughout this costume film romance and all the crushes and interpersonal drama it brings with it, the topic of “planning and building the Eiffel Tower” comes up sporadically. And the more directly and factually this topic was tackled, the greater the interest in the film became. Because the way screenwriter Caroline Bongrand and Thomas Bidegain, Martin Bourboulon, Natalie Carter and Martin Brossollet, who are responsible for editing the dialogue, convey the background knowledge about the world-famous masterpiece of engineering radiates enthusiasm and awe at the skill achieved. And there is also a flash of nerdy pride that so many obstacles that stood in the way of this project and the solutions that were taken are still recorded. Be it problems regarding the nature of the soil, financing problems or human ambitions, which should be self-evident these days but, as we know, have not been for far too long (“No one dies on my construction site!”)…
“The way screenwriter Caroline Bongrand and Thomas Bidegain, Martin Bourboulon, Natalie Carter and Martin Brossollet, who are responsible for editing the dialogue, convey the background knowledge about the world-famous masterpiece of engineering radiates enthusiasm and awe at the skill achieved.”
This may be entertaining, but it exposes a fundamental problem that plagues “Eiffel in Love”: It is not a documentary about the construction of the Eiffel Tower, so this information is only sporadically distributed throughout the film. But if you pounce ravenously on these nuggets of knowledge, it becomes clear how little the actual focus of the film – the romance – is ignited. One of the reasons for this is that there is simply no convincing chemistry between Romain Duris and Emma Mackey – even though director Martin Bourboulon does (“Mom versus Dad”) staged a relatively tactile, passionate sex scene. You can tell that this is a French production – mainstream US costume films would be more timid and not allow the characters to bury their fingers so deeply into each other’s flesh out of sheer desire. But even this scene ultimately falls flat, which, in addition to the lack of on-screen chemistry, is probably due to the flat camera work that lacks pizzazz.
Construction of the Eiffel Tower begins…
The script is also a hindrance: you can see a fascination with Eiffel as an engineer – his pragmatism, his initial modesty (he regularly refers to the contributions of others) and his contradictory, difficult-to-control ambition. The private man Eiffel, on the other hand, remains a mystery in “Eiffel in Love” who always behaves as the dramaturgy pleases. If he needs tension, he is destructive or arrogant. If he needs a reconciliatory break, he is out of the blue insightful, modest and open-hearted. What the film version of Adrienne Bourgès is supposed to find in him and why he is so obsessed with her cannot be grasped. This makes the whole “Will they get each other or won’t they get each other?” questions uninteresting. And the resulting tensions, both social and interpersonal, since Adrienne Bourgès is officially with one of Eiffel’s important business partners, ripple away. The impressive budget for costumes, richly detailed sets and fairly seamless integration of CG backgrounds are of little use.
“‘Eiffel in Love’ is not a documentary about the construction of the Eiffel Tower, so this information is only sporadically distributed throughout the film.”
This production, scored by Alexandre Desplat with a functional, catchy score that does not strengthen the romantic side of the film, does have an outstanding scene to offer: the completion of the first floor of the Eiffel Tower, with the meticulously used mechanical elements at a dizzying height using daring balance Tricks and precise calculations are used to seamlessly combine the previously isolated elements. Bourboulon suddenly stages the scene as if it were liberated, the camera floats through the action, practical and digital elements mesh very well to create the immersive illusion that you are really present at this moment… And the internal dramaturgy of the scene is so sophisticated that it could be a be a short film that stands on its own. It’s a shame the rest of the film can’t live up to it.
Conclusion: “Eiffel in Love” sprinkles a lot of gripping information about the construction of the Eiffel Tower into a bloodless, dramaturgically exaggerated romance told without sparks.
“Eiffel” can be seen in USA cinemas from November 18, 2021.