Under the Eiffel Tower is a film written and directed by Archie Borders. Stuart (Matt Walsh), in the midst of a mid-life crisis, makes things awkward when he proposes to his friend’s daughter (Dylan Gelula) on a family trip to Paris. From there he meets a Scottish football player (Reid Scott) and a vineyard owner (Judith Godreche) with whom he tries to find the sober lining of his alcohol-centered life. Also starring Michaela Watkins, David Wain, and Gary Cole.
With a plot synopsis involving a proposal to a good friend’s 24-year-old daughter underneath the Eiffel Tower (wait, isn’t that the title?) one expects things to ultimately lead to such an obviously important and potentially large moment. However, that proposal occurs in the first minutes of the film and ends up being the catalyst for the remainder of the story to take place. This isn’t so much about what happens under the tower as much as what happens after that, and it’s clearly necessary that it gets that out of the way as soon as possible to facilitate the story at large. In fact, the first 20 or so minutes zoom by to quickly introduce the characters and set up the situations and meetups that will carry the movie through to the end. And while it does feel like we’re kind of thrown into Stuart’s upsetting life and we see him make such a drastically misaligned move as the proposal is, the line never feels to be crossed into the film coming across as too shallow or too ridiculous to spin out before it’s begun.
“Just let me have my stereotype…” The script and runtime are tight, leaving only room for what’s absolutely necessary. This means that some moment-to-moment situations feel like they’ve escalated a bit quicker than is unquestionably believable, though the writing and directing does a fine enough job guiding the characters and film around to keep things from falling apart. There are some typically romantic tropes that slide in and out at times, and there’s little surprise in what important beats are likely to appear and when, but it’s never enough to dampen the experience.
“It wasn’t in the box.” The standout is Matt Walsh, who has such a sincere air about everything he does. Specifically, his chemistry with Judith Grodreche is sweet, charming, and wholly believable. His performance and the chemistry between those two are absolutely the glue that makes this film what it is. The only time I didn’t feel the magic was near the end when the writing got to be too cliché in its romantic ways and the performances just couldn’t force their way into genuine territory. It’s a bit eye-roll inducing, but it’s not quite enough to leave the whole thing on a flat note.
Under the Eiffel Tower is like a weekend trip to Paris; short, sweet, and to the point. It delivers some romantic charm with sincere performances but doesn’t have a chance to dive into the true kind of magic that exists beneath the typical romantic-comedy surface.
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