Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Day Eleven: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006) - Rank 4.5/5


This was a film that was dogged by the critics upon its release, giving it a brief life in Louisville. As a result I missed it in theatres despite it looking fantastic in previews. Adam, Christine and Bennett kept pressing me to see it, claiming it was my new, favorite movie and I didn't know it yet, until it was gifted to me at Christmas, accompanied by a: "Now, watch it!" I can rest easily now, knowing that my friends are accurately conscious of my movie tastes.

"Perfume" is a delightfully dark tale of a street urchin with the most gifted nose in the world. He embarks upon a quest to create the finest perfume in the world - one so powerful that it would bring kings reflexively to their knees. To create it, he begins methodically killing young girls in an effort to preserve their scents for his perfume. Tom Twyker sets the film in eighteenth century France in all its grimy glory, from the mud-spattered tarts of Paris to the slimy, fish-market floor onto which the main character, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, is born. Dustin Hoffman had a fun role as a pathetic, has-been perfumer who takes Jean-Baptiste (played well by Ben Whitshaw) under his wing. Alan Rickman makes a fine antagonist (as he does in most of his films) who does everything he can to protect his daughter, Laura (newcomer Rachel Hurd-Wood), from the maniacal Jean-Baptiste.

The film has ample dark humor, and the scenes of Jean-Baptiste tracking Laura across the countryside simply by sniffing the air are both eerie and mesmerizing (I'm a sucker for any film that gets you to root for the murderer). I'm not sure why critics didn't like this film, because I found it one of the fresher scripts/films I've seen out of Hollywood for a while. I think many were turned off by how carried away the film got near the end. It finishes in a climax (double entendre intended here) that is reminiscent of some of the wilder moments in Ken Russell films (see my review of "The Devils"). Some may find it excessive, but I thought it was a perfect end to a film that was quite "over-the-top" for most of its duration.

Oh, and incidentally, I want John Hurt to narrate my life, too.

Watch the Trailer

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