Monday, February 5, 2007

Perfume

Posted by lea at 12:55 PM
This is a really good and very faithful adaptation of the book by Patrick Suskind. The only unfortunate thing is that while the book draws you right into the story, watching it on the big screen creates a sense of detachment, so when the story becomes more and more fable-like, on the big screen it verges on the ridiculous and unbelievable.

It’s a pretty foreboding tale of Jean Baptiste, a boy with an incredibly heightened olfactory sense that enables him to re-create the most intricate of perfumes perfectly after just one sniff. Smell becomes his beauty and his obsession, and he begins murdering beautiful young women in order to preserve their scent and create the world’s best perfume (don’t worry, I’m not giving anything away here as the movie is titled Perfume: the story of a murderer or something like that).

You quickly understand that Jean Baptiste is not quite human, so it’s impossible to feel empathy for him. Death follows him around, leaving a trail of tragedy behind him that he is not even aware of, let alone responsible for, so you begin to wonder whether murder is a choice or his destiny. The film doesn’t dramatise the content or try to exploit the story, as it could have done. Instead, the story is treated quite respectfully so it doesn’t feel like a cheap Hollywood thriller.

The fable-like quality of the story comes from the narration and the unbelievable events that unfold, like a massive town orgy (yes, of the sexual kind) and cannibalistic suicide, both induced by the perfume he created from the dead girls. There was a good deal of snickering from the people sitting next to us during the orgy scene, but for the informed (those who have read the book or can see beyond the fact that masses of people are fornicating in public, which is admittedly a little hard to see beyond), there’s a sense of wonder and sadness and beauty all mingled together in this tale.

The redheads are gorgeous and while it was a surprise to see Alan Rickman in the movie (a bit jarring to tell the truth), it was an intriguing two and a bit hours.

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