Eiffel review: Let’s build a tower!

Emma Mackey and Romain Duris in Eiffel

Eiffel, from France, is not entirely successful at telling the story of the construction of the Eiffel Tower or of the romance between Gustave Eiffel and Adrienne Bourgès. It tries to do both and be inspiring at the same time.

Gustave Eiffel (Romain Duris) was an engineer. He met the rich and beautiful Adrienne Bourgès (Emma Mackey) early in his career while building an all metal bridge. They fell in love and planned to marry until her parents stepped in and forced her to marry someone more “suitable.”

Time passed. Gustave married someone else and had three children before his wife passed away. Then Eiffel became famous because of the Statue of Liberty he engineered in America. When it was time for the 1889 Paris World’s Fair, he submitted a proposal for a 300 meter tower of steel to be built near the Seine River.

Romain Duris climbing around on the struts and bars of the partially built tower.

When Gustave won the competition to construct something for the World’s Fair, he and Adrienne met each other at a celebration. The attraction was still there. They started their romance up again in secret.

Emma Mackey in Eiffel

It was a constant battle to get the tower built. There were protests because Paris residents thought it was ugly. There were engineering problems and funding problems. The workers struck. The film jumps through these issues while telling more of the love story of Gustave and Adrienne.

Told in flashbacks and secret rendezvous, the love story and the construction story each had about 50% of the story. Neither got full treatment and there were gaps and omissions for much of the story.

the poster for Eiffel shows a partially completed tower with Emma Mackey and Romain Duris embracing on a beam high up in the air

I was interested in the engineering aspects of the story. The few times Gustave explained how the tower would be constructed to bankers and investors were fascinating. The guy was a genius at engineering. The love story was just the normal secret lovers stuff and not at all unique. However, it’s nice to see Emma Mackey get to exercise her French side and be a grown up after watching her brilliant performance in Sex Education.

In the end, the film left me disappointed that it wasn’t more complete and coherent. I watched it all and didn’t turn it off. It wasn’t a bad film, but I definitely wanted it to be better than it was.

2 thoughts on “Eiffel review: Let’s build a tower!”

  1. It was over ten years ago when I read “Eiffel’s Tower: The Thrilling Story Behind Paris’s Beloved Monument and the Extraordinary World’s Fair That Introduced It” (2010) by Jill Jonnes. When I read this review of the motion picture something just didn’t seem right.

    To refresh my memory I checked some sources and it is clear that the film maker has taken great liberties with the real story. A French reviewer says, “French Blockbuster Disappoints, Reinventing The Life Of Gustave Eiffel”. Wow! The reinventing, the departure from the truth is particularly offensive with respect to Eiffel’s relationship with Adrienne Bourgès.

    Thank you for this review. Anyone who wants the true, full story is advised to read the book.

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