- Movie Rating -

Eiffel (2022)

| June 6, 2022

I doubt whether there is one single monument that can represent the culture of one city as The Eiffel Tower.  It is as much a part of the city of Paris as baguettes, bicycles and bal musette music.  It is even integral to one of the famous of movie clichés, that it can be seen out of every single window in the city. From these American eyes, there has always been a sexual component to it.  Paris has always been known as the epicenter of l’amoure and the design of Gustav Eiffel’s tower is unique in that it has curves and a layout of girders that remind me of fishnet stockings.

There is a hidden reason for its design though, according to Martin Bourboulon’s Eiffel, the story of how French architect Gustav Eiffel battled for his dream over the objections of city officials, planners and even The Pope who claimed that the monument would steal popular thunder from Notre Dame cathedral.  For that reason, you have to wait until the end, but by that point you realize that the script has sweated and labored to make it happen, and it was largely in vane.

Really, Eiffel’s story is told in two parts.  One deals with his current day (1887 to 1889) struggle to design and build his dream project.  It moves through quickly as Eiffel (Romain Duris) has already built himself a sparkling reputation as the man who designed the foundation of The Statue of Liberty.  The Eiffel Tower would be a win for the home-team, if he can get it built in time for the World’s Fair.

This is the interesting part because the best parts of the movie deal not only in how the tower would be built, but also in how Eiffel intended it to stay up.  There’s a brilliant scene in which the city officials sniff at his design, asking how it can possibly be sustainable with such a close proximity to the Sien (25 miles).  Gustav’s layman answer is quite brilliant, by using rivets and puddle iron it is not only sturdy but wind-resistant.  He also quiets concerns about the working crew and of their safety – which is why there were no serious injuries or deaths during its construction.

What does not work however is the film’s love story.  In a very aggrevating narrative, the story moves back and forth in time to tell us how Eiffel fell in love with the beautiful Adrieanne Bourgés (Emma Mackey), a beguiling beauty who captured his heart, but lo, was not in the cards to be his wife.  This part of the story is kind of dusty.  You never feel the real passionate connection between them.  It doesn’t have the forward momentum that it should have.  Plus!  It’s fiction!  The movie opens by telling us upfront that the story is “Freely based on a true story” and we know that the story of Gustav and Adrienne are not true, which empties all meaning from the reveal at the end.

The better love story is the one between Eiffel and his most famous work.  It is touching that the tower wasn’t built with a functional purpose.  Unlike the bridges and the railway stations that Eiffel was also famous for, this one seemed to simply come from the heart and was meant to be symbolic, not functional.  It was a work of art that would stand the test of time, and a monument to the pioneering spirit of The Industrial Age.

I liked that part of the story.  I liked seeing the construction of The Eiffel Tower through it’s designer’s eyes, not only in his vision to get it done but in his vision of how it would get done.  That part is inticing.  I just wish that had been the whole focus.  

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2022) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized