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‘Eiffel’ review

Romain Duris & Emma Mackey shine in this towering tale of passion.

Eiffel
Credit: Vertigo Releasing

In this towering tale of passion, European cinematic superstar Romain Duris plays Gustave Eiffel, a renowned architect tasked with building the piece de resistance for the 1889 Paris World Fair. With all the eyes of the world on France, Eiffel takes on this enormous task – but a chance encounter with an old flame (Sex Education’s Emma Mackey) makes things even more complicated.

This bittersweet romantic drama is wonderfully acted by its two engaging leads. Romain Duris is French cinema’s beloved go-to-guy and can do no wrong. Duris is frequently the best thing in all of his movies. In ‘Eiffel’ Duris gives the role of Gustave his all, delivering a powerful and emotionally charged leading turn that completely captivates you from the first minute. Constructing the character – a driven and brilliant designer via an emotionally compromised dreamer who has never really recovered from losing his true love, Duris gives every facet of this role its due care and attention – fleshing out the historical figure with genuine sorrow and passion.

Emma Mackey continues to seriously impress no matter which eclectic project she takes on next. With huge films like Greta Gerwig’s big screen adaptation of toy franchise ‘Barbie’ (alongside Margot Robbie) and her first major leading role as Emily Brontë in the imaginatively titled ‘Emma’, it’s safe to say Mackey is one of the most promising young talents on the circuit. Mackey brings a warmth to her role as Adrienne Bourgès and easily sells the passion and longing of the story. Her French accent, it must be said, is also flawless – quelle surprise, given that she was born and brought up in France.

Duris and Mackey’s chemistry is organic and beautifully put-together. Their coupling gives the film a genuine and relatable love story to champion. You feel every wrought emotion of Gustave’s sadness. Adrienne’s impossible task of seeking a seemingly unattainable happiness is heart-breaking to witness too. Together they bring back the classic cinematic pairing of star-crossed lovers, and their tale is a sad but rewarding one that beckons you on this captivating journey.

The ensemble all stands tall too, with Armande Boulanger handing in a sweet and affecting turn as Gustave’s daughter Claire Eiffel, who is preparing to marry. The brief exchanges between Duris and Boulanger quickly convey a loving relationship between a father and his daughter, with Claire all too aware that her father has been living in sadness for many years. Both actors manage to deliver a lot of emotional resonance within their small scenes. Pierre Deladonchamps plays Adrienne’s current beau Antoine de Restac, an old classmate of Eiffel’s who is also a journalist who works closely with the ministry that’s sanctioning the build of the 1889 Paris World Fair structure. So this love triangle between Eiffel, his lost beloved Bourgès, and her current partner de Restac is well played throughout by all parties, and delivers an enthralling central drama that keeps you hooked.

Along with Martin Bourboulon’s keen direction and some very effective CGI work used to convey the construction of the gargantuan tower itself, ‘Eiffel’ delivers a classic romance that lingers long in the soul. A wonderful endeavour that holds your attention throughout and rekindles cinema’s affair with the traditional love story, ‘Eiffel’ is a wonderful watch. I wouldn’t get too bogged down with its historical accuracy either, because as the start of the picture proudly proclaims, the film is ‘freely inspired by real facts’. What is left is a bittersweet and affecting ode to classic love stories of the past, that utilises a historical figure that we all know, and attempts to elaborate on their personal life. Who is to say if Gustave and Adrienne’s love was real? In terms of the film ‘Eiffel’, it’s real, captivating and utterly absorbing.

Cast: Romain Duris, Emma Mackey, Pierre Deladonchamp, Armande Boulanger, Bruno Raffaelli, Alexandre Steiger, Andranic Manet, Philippe Hérisson Director: Martin Bourboulon Writer: Caroline Bongrand, Thomas Bidegain, Natalie Carter, Martin Bourboulon, Martin Brossollet Certificate: 15 Duration: 108 mins Released by: Vertigo Releasing Release date: 12th August 2022

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