Run time: 108 mins
That Paris is now known for the Eiffel Tower despite the resistance to its construction would be a satisfying plot twist for its designer, Gustave Eiffel. Here, director Martin Bourboulon casts a thoughtfully romanticised look at the story behind its creation.
Eiffel is scaffolded against two key narratives concerning Gustave Eiffel (Romain Duris): his professional pursuit of engineering excellence in designing and building the tower, and his personal, yet forbidden, passion for a childhood friend, Adrienne Bourgès (Emma Mackey). Though the latter is a fictional embellishment of what was in reality a platonic connection, it serves to gently humanise a man whose staggering intellect appears so mechanical in nature that he himself appears to be the creation of an engineer’s fantasy.
It’s unafraid to expose the less aesthetic aspects of Eiffel’s life such as the tensions of his relationship with the government, and the challenges he faced in establishing and maintaining his public reputation. Duris delivers these elements with particular panache – subtle, yet utterly engrossing. With a familiarly sweeping score by Alexandre Desplat and postcard-perfect cinematography from Matias Boucard, Eiffel is a fond souvenir of French artistry in all its forms.