‘Under the Eiffel Tower’ Review: In Whine, Truth | Modern Society of USA

‘Under the Eiffel Tower’ Review: In Whine, Truth

‘Under the Eiffel Tower’ Review: In Whine, Truth

In “Under the Eiffel Tower,” Stuart (Matt Walsh), an American bourbon expert fired for a “lack of passion,” likens his existence to the lives of quiet desperation described by Thoreau. “Desperation” seems too mild. When a friend (David Wain) invites Stuart to come along with him, his wife (Michaela Watkins) and their daughter (Dylan Gelula) on a French vacation, the trip has barely started before Stuart proposes marriage to the daughter — who is maybe half his age — at the base of the Eiffel Tower. And that’s before the title card.

Rebounding from this mortifyingly dumb opening proves less difficult for Stuart than for the movie, directed by Archie Borders. The film is yet another ode to the restorative magic of wine country sunshine, which apparently also has the power to expose the story’s egregious midlife-crisis clichés.

If you thought the men in “Sideways” were too schlubby, too pathetic, and the women too inexplicably accommodating, “Under the Eiffel Tower” is here to say, “Hold my Bordeaux.”

Stuart quickly falls in with a rakish Scottish football player (Reid Scott) who teaches him to live for the moment; they end up disembarking from a train with a sophisticated vintner (Judith Godrèche) who awakens Stuart’s sense of chivalry. Godrèche, one of the producers, has perhaps masked her own quiet desperation trying to add depth to such a thankless role.

There is some mildly amusing business involving the fate of the engagement ring, and Watkins turns up periodically to make withering remarks, serving as a de facto surrogate for the audience.

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