The Symbol of Love


Director: Martin Bourboulon

Cast: Romain Duris, Emma Mackey, Pierre Deladonchamps, Armande Boulanger, Bruno Raffaelli

Film Rating: 8 out of 10

Running Time: 1 hour 48 minutes

This film is in French with English Subtitles

French director Martin Bourboulon’s meticulous reconstruction of the events both historical and romantic leading up to the design and construction of the infamous Paris landmark the Eiffel tower is beautifully told in a new film Eiffel which had it’s South African premiere at the Durban International Film Festival in July 2022 before going on general release in cinemas. With financial backing from Loreal Paris and BNP Paribas, Eiffel is a truly sumptuous French film.

Eiffel is like watching a Merchant Ivory film in French and stars Romain Duris (All the Money in the World) as Gustave Eiffel who inadvertently reconnects with his lover from 20 years ago, the gorgeous Adrienne Bourges played by Anglo-French actress Emma Mackey who last appeared in Death on the Nile.

The only problem is that in 1886, three years before the Paris World Fair in March 1889, when the idea for the Eiffel tower is first proposed, Adrienne is unhappily married to Antoine de Rustac played by Pierre Deladonchamps.

Based upon an original screenplay by Caroline Bongrand, the plot of Eiffel skilfully weaves between two time periods, the Paris of 1886 and Bordeaux of 1860 when Gustave Eiffel having successfully designed and been an engineer on a new bridge first meets Adrienne Bourges, a young girl from an upper middle class family. Their love in 1860 is lustful yet forbidden. At the time, they didn’t realize that fate would bring them together again.

In 1886, after some initial opposition to the building of the Eiffel Tower, Gustave and his team win the bid to build the tower for the 1889 Paris World Fair, not realizing that once it is constructed, it will become a symbol of eternity for Paris and an iconic Parisian landmark.

Nowadays everybody associates The Eiffel Tower with Paris, but it is fascinating to watch a historical film like Eiffel as it provides all the backstory about the man behind the design and the woman that inspired such a momentous effort and fuelled his determination to complete the Tower in time for the World Fair.

The Eiffel Tower officially opened in March 1889 and was naturally a huge success for Parisians. With gorgeous costume design by Thiere Delettre and accompanied by a signature original score by Oscar winning composer Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Shape of Water) Eiffel is a sumptuous period film set in the 1880’s about forbidden love and a quest to build something symbolic which became eternally associated with the city of Paris.

Eiffel is worth watching particularly for the superb onscreen chemistry between Emma Mackey and Romain Duris. With all the history, symbolism and romance, Eiffel is a fascinating historical film and gets a film rating of 8 out of 10. Beautiful and entrancing.

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