I had originally planned to post something else this week, but fate had other plans.
This week, my daughter brought home a movie which I had seen the previews for at the theater. At the time I thought it had looked totally fascinating, despite the fact the second half of the preview made it look like a slasher film. My husband pooh pooh’ed it at the time, and I don’t know if it was out long if at all at the theaters.
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is far from a being a slasher film. They shot themselves in the foot with the advertising there. But what had caught my attention at the time when I saw the preview, it had in spades. More on that later…
As the title itself suggests, the movie is the story of a murderer, a biography actually, of the life of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. His life was one of being different, obsession, and desperately wanting to preserve things that could be lost.
For an obscure film. it had some heavy hitters. Dustin Hoffman was a total delight as the aging perfumer Guisseppe Baldini. Even more fun was Alan Rickman (Better known as Snape by most) as Richis. I do not believe I have seen Mr. Ben Wishaw before (though his film credits are many), but I will tell you he made a great creepy/obsessed/innocent/eager/abnormal man.
Jean-Baptiste is unusual from other people in two things – 1) He has an uncanny , virtually superhuman sense of smell and 2) He has no actual scent of his own.
What I utterly loved about this film is how hard those who made the film worked at making the act of smelling something and turned it into a visual medium so though you could not smell what Jean-Baptiste smelled, you could very well imagine it. There is one scene with Dustin Huffman where he opens a vial of perfume Jean-Baptiste has made and you see him overwhelmed by the scent as the scene around him changes to a lush garden full of all sorts of flowers, even a gypsy woman who saunters by and tells him that she loves him. (I’ve seen this done for taste in a cooking anime show, so I thought the similarities hilarious, but never mind…)
The settings, the clothing, and all the little touches were wonderful in the film. They took you from the common filth to the elite and back. And they did some marvelous things with light and shadow. The very first scene was amazing in that way as they use light and shadow to highlight the one organ that meant everything for the film, Jean-Baptiste’s nose. Another lovely scene was when he sneaks up on the fruit seller girl when she is home so he can smell her scent up close.
Even better, though Jean-Baptiste is so not normal, and at times it screams of his not fitting in, you still find yourself wanting him to succeed in his project, despite the fact that to complete his goal people must die. The writers have several unusual and clever things going on as well, as for some reason pretty much anyone who Jean-Baptiste gets close to end up dead, and through no doing of his. Just some clever plot of fate, as if making sure no one would remember this unusual man by getting rid of those who know him. Several plot twists work you up toward where you think you know where things are going and then go somewhere else. The ending, while totally apt, you will never see coming.
Definitely a must see movie, even weird as it was!:P