Monday, September 14, 2009

Perfume : The Story of a Murderer - A Review

I caught this movie by accident on TV and I watched the whole thing for 2 hours plus.


This movie is about a young man, Jean Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw), born with superhuman olfactory ability. He was abandoned in the fish market and grew up to be a weird boy. One day, he startled a girl selling plums and tried to cover her mouth to prevent her from screaming. He accidentally suffocated her to death. After her death, he stripped her naked and smell her body scent until the scent left. Grenouille was extremely fascinated by human scent. After that incident, he learned how to make perfume from a washed up perfume maker Giuseppe Baldini (Dustin Hoffman). Grenouille learned that the perfect perfume contains harmonies of twelve individual scents, and may contain a theoretical thirteenth scent. Grenouille became obsessed with scents and embarked on a journey to Grasse to learn to make perfume.

In Grasse, he became even more obsessed with human scent and learned to preserve human scent by killing young virgins, cutting their hair and applying animal fat on their naked bodies. The fats were then distilled and made into perfume. Grasse was terrified of this murderer on killing spree, killing beautiful young virgins and leaving their bodies all over the city. However, Grenouille seemed to be untouched by the fear of the city and chose the last girl, Laura ( Rachel Hurd Wood) as his thirteenth scent to make his perfect perfume. Laura's wealthy father (Alan Rickman) fled the city with his daughter to an inn. However, Grenouille tracked down her scent and murdered her in her own room.


Shortly after completing his perfume, Grenouille was caught and was sentence to death. Right before his execution, he dabbed a few drops of the perfume on himself and the public who were there to witness his execution went into ecstasy and euphoria. Even the Bishop himself claimed that he was innocent and released him. Grenouille walked out of Grasse unscathed and with enough perfume to conquer the world. However, he went back to that humble fish market where he was abandoned, releasing that he cannot be a normal person that love and be loved in return. He poured the entire bottle of perfume onto himself and the crowd devoured him on the spot. The movie ends with a scene where a single drop of perfume dropped from the empty bottle.


The plot itself is interesting, horrible and fascinating at the same time. The story tells of an anti-hero that one cannot be possibly feel sympathy for, but at the same time, one cannot be disgusted of his quest for perfection. The story was told in a flashback manner, where the pace was fast and slow at the same time. It is really skillful of the director, Tom Tykwer, to tell a story like a form of art. It may sound compact to put the origin of a murderer and his 12 priced killings in such short time but you don't really notice that you sat through 12 murders in about 2 hours.

The movie was a visual feast, where colours and emotions where potrayed so beautifully. Even the murder scenes looked like art. To me, the story was queer and unusual. But this movie provides such visual fact that I willingly throw out all logic in the world. Yes, it is virtually impossible for a man to have olfactory ability like a dog, maybe even greater. Yes, it is also impossible that human pheromone induce such explosive impact on fellow human beings. But this story was so brilliantly told that logic doesn't have to exist in them. And it certainly helped that the actors are really good.



Ratings : 7.5 /10
Comments : The idea of the movie might disgust you. The movie itself might disgust you. But watch with an open mind and screw logic, this one will be really a visual feast.

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