Yes, as Mystère à la Tour Eiffel (2017) is ‘the Victorian interracial lesbian murder-mystery movie you’ve always wanted,’ just like The Mary Sue, Medieval POC, and everyone else has said. This French-language TV movie certainly delivers on both a classic murder-mystery story and an interracial lesbian romance set around 1890. The only problem I can admit to is the trouble you’ll have finding it to watch. I’m not usually one to promote an illegal download, but that’s how I found it, thanks to one of our readers sending us this link here, which is buried in comments on our site somewhere and I’m just bumping it up a bit. You’re on your own for figuring out the player and how to make the subtitles work (note: that took me only a short bit of googling :). But I think this frock flick is worth it!
At about an hour and a half, the story moves along at a sprightly clip, introducing Louise, a divorced artist and the daughter of one of the architects who worked for Gustave Eiffel on the Eiffel Tower. While she’s trying to avoid another dull marriage foisted on her by her father, she flirts with an exciting magician’s assistant, Henriette. However, a series of murders begin around Louise, the first being a co-worker of her father, then her father, followed by another of her father’s co-workers. The police suspect Louise, although Henriette attempts to distract her enjoyably. Alas, Louise is thrown into a lunatic asylum, where a sympathetic doctor hypnotizes her to help her remember what happened at the time of the murders. She escapes the asylum and tries to prove her innocence with Henriette’s help, and you’ll have to watch for yourself to see what happens. Though I can say there’s satisfying ending.
Costumes in Mystère à la Tour Eiffel
Pierre Canitrot designed the costumes for this and the TV movie Mystère à la Opera (2015), another in this series of historical murder-mystery films set around famous landmarks. Likewise, key hairstylist Sylvain Lemarcis worked on both movies. There is a solid level of workmanship to the late Victorian costuming and hair throughout this film, which is impressive for what doesn’t appear to be a big-budget effort. I suspect there were a lot of rentals used, but they were well-chosen and properly accessorized. The only quibble is that Louise tends to not wear a hat very often outdoors, when she typically would (and when other women are shown wearing hats, including Henriette). It’s kind of a main-character thing. At least her hair is beautifully styled for the period.
Henriette wears an purposefully “exotic” stage outfit, but she points out that it’s “for the tourists” and referencing the 1889 Exposition that the Eiffel Tower was created for. Millions of tourists came from all over the world to this event, which featured exhibits from 35 countries. The village nègre (negro village) contained at least 400 indigenous people as a display of colonial power. It’s a practical choice to cater to the Exposition crowd with an African-esque stage outfit, and luckily Henriette’s everyday clothes are not tokenized.
In fact, Henriette’s outfits are perfectly ordinary, as are those of the other lesbians at the club she takes Louise to for a drink and a dance. There’s none of the cliched attempt to dress any of the women in more “masculine” or “butch” clothing. All of them, Louise, her friend Charlotte, women passing by on the street, are wearing typical 1880s-ish fitted walking suits or bustle gowns. None are especially fancy or frilly because this movie has no formal dinners or balls, and all the characters are of solid middle-class, so there’s no need for extravagant high fashion. The clothes aren’t dull, just proper and smart without trying to convey any hidden meanings.
Will you be bothering to download Mystère à la Tour Eiffel too?
Fun fact: That sketch Henriette is holding is a study of Corbet’s L’Origine du Monde. Doubtful that Louise ever would have had access to it, seeing as how it was basically kept under wraps from almost Day One. It’s first public viewing was in 1988, and then the next one wasn’t until 20 years later in 2008.
/end art historian nerding
It’s in with a bunch of female nude sketches (completed & half-finished), so it’s prob. more of a reference than trying to say Louise owned that work. Louise is an artist herself & her drawings are part of the plot (not the nude ones specifically).
My point isn’t that she owned the work, just that if it’s meant to be a study of the painting, she’s unlikely to have ever seen it as it wasn’t publicly revealed until the late-20th century.
LET ME BE NITPICKY ABOUT THIS ONE THING!!!
It could be a study of a chick she knew (since she’s obviously into girls) or her own body (since she’s not the shy type). I’m not saying the producers aren’t referencing that art, but the character can have her own agency too.
Wasn’t the Paris Exposition in the 1890s? I remember reading that L C Tiffany exhibited his Favrile glass at the Exposition and it was the favourable reaction from the committee that led him to branch out with larger pieces in Chicago??
So shouldn’t the women be in the style of the 1890s not 1880s?
A quibble, but you beat me to the art history one.
Hi! The exhibition lasted all summer in 1889. Bustles were still worn, but the simple skirts started to appear too. The elegant visitors and Parisians would wear the latest fashion, but Henriette and Louis aren’t part of the beau monde. I find it nice, that they still wear narrow bustle skirts, also the moderate sized gigot sleeves, like all common women would do: keep the old while it’s usable, then alter it to the new styles.
What she said!
I managed to buy a copy from amazon.fr (Amazon France) and was delighted — but alas, the subtitles are in Dutch. Still, one can watch it for the pretty.
Did the dvd come in a 2 cd set ? was it the actual movie with the same plot. I just purchased it out of desperation and I am hoping I did not waste my money.
Hi! First of all please excuse my english, I’m french. I don’t know if you heard about it but Mystère à la Tour Eiffel is part of a TV series called Mystère à Paris. So it means there are other episodes (Mystère au Moulin-Rouge, Mystère à la Tour Eiffel, Mystère à l’Opéra, Mystère au Louvre, Mystère place Vendôme). I think you may like them. They all take place in Paris during the late 19th century, but the characters and the plots are not the same at all.
Oh and by the way I do love your reviews and all your articles