Title – Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)
Director – Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run)
Cast – Ben Whishaw, Dustin Hoffman, Alan Rickman, Rachel Hurd-Wood, John Hurt, Sara Forestier
Plot – A sprawling epic set in the 18th century that follows perfume maker Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Whishaw) whose extreme sense of smell leads him on a dark quest to find the perfect scent.
“Now pay attention to what I tell you”
Review by Eddie on 13/06/2019
Adapting Patrick Suskind’s famous and controversial 1985 novel Perfume: The Story of a Murderer was never going to be an easy task, but its a task Cloud Atlas director Tom Tykwer gave a good go at back in 2006.
Somewhat a sleeper hit upon initial release, one that saw Tykwer’s high budget film make its mark in the worldwide box-office, Perfume wasn’t exactly fawned over by critics despite its strong production values and handsomely crafted period detail but in the year’s since, this dark and morbid tale has become somewhat of an underground heavy-hitter.
Talked about in film circles, thanks largely to it’s needing to be seen to be believed final act and it’s unwavering examination of Ben Whishaw’s gifted but sadistic Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, whose on a quest to find the world’s perfect scent, of which he will find using his extraordinary sense of smell, Perfume is in many ways memorable but that doesn’t make it anymore tolerant to bare.
The problem with Tykwer’s film and its faithful adapting of Suskind’s novel is that this is a two and a half hour film that is entirely bereft of any light, sunshine or levity with Tykwer’s grey, gloomy and depressive take on the material making for viewing that is both tough and grungy.
Grenouille is a hard central figure to put up with, barely muttering more than a few words together at a time, its not that Whishaw is bad, its just that Grenouille isn’t someone you want to be spending as much time with as he goes about an increasingly depraved quest to unlock a world changing scent that unfortunately can only be discovered by the murdering of young females.
This doesn’t exactly make for an easy going viewing experience and while you initially are waiting for a slither of goodness or light to appear from within the unfortunate Grenouille, you begin to realize that this isn’t something that will be forthcoming.
It’s as dark of a story as it sounds on paper and while some may praise Tykwer for sticking to his guns and delivering an uncompromising and very un-Hollywood treatment, there will be other’s like me who find Perfume eye-capturing in a production sense but resent the story within it and it’s not hard to see why many critics were less than enamored with Perfume upon its initial cinematic run.
Final Say –
A bizarre and nefarious little tale that features one of the modern era’s most eye-popping finales, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is a film that’s hard to enjoy despite its fine craftsmanship, due to the very nature of it’s depressive and sinister central concept.
2 1/2 town square’s out of 5