Welcome back, lovelies. I hope you had a fabulous week and that you have an even better weekend. To get your weekend started off on the right foot I have a great movie for you to watch tonight. It’s a movie about obsession, it’s an unconventional love story and it’s very uncomfortable and unnerving. Sounds great, right?
This movie takes place 300 years ago in Paris and centres around a man named Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, played by Ben Whishaw, who is born in a disgustingly dirty fish market alleyway. It’s the filthiest place imaginable and Grenouille is treated as a piece of refuge; no one expects him to survive, yet alone thrive, but he does. And he has an incredible trait: he has the most accurate and sensitive sense of smell in the world.
He goes through life smelling everything, even the most minute of scents. He gets noticed by a perfumier, played by the always delightful Dustin Hoffman, and together they turn his once ailing business into a thriving success. But ordinary scents can only take him so far. Baptiste soon becomes obsessed with capturing rare and beautiful scents; he wants to capture the essence of beauty and make the best perfume in the world. To this end, he becomes a murderer, killing women and distilling them.
Director, Tom Tykwer, creates a incredible sensory landscape for us to get lost in. Not only is this movie visually stunning but it creates a world that we can smell, feel and taste. It’s difficult to translate sense onto film but when we were taken through the street where Grenouille was born, I could smell those smells, I felt myself wrinkling my nose and remembering smells from my paste. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer doesn’t stop there though, I could feel the grittiness of the streets and the smooth contours of Grenouille’s victim’s skin, and some of the smells were so intense that I could almost taste them in my mouth.
This movie is very dark and Grenouille’s skills become an all encompassing obsession. He has no room for any other human interactions or interests, perfume is all there is. You may not be able to relate to this character and you probably won’t empathize with him but you won’t be able to turn away. It’s interesting to watch and enjoy a film where the main character is so one dimensional, so singularly purposed, but I was so wrapped up in his story. It shouldn’t work but it does.
Furthermore, the acting is wonderful. Whishaw plays Grenouille perfectly, completely encompassing his single mindedness and his undeniable obsession with such clarity. Dustin Hoffman brings the only humanity to the film. His depiction of the down trodden but likeable perfumier is exactly what we need in contrast to Grenouille’s character. Another thing, did I mention that Alan Rickman is in this movie? Need I say more? I didn’t think so.
A visual feat, brilliantly acted and directed, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is exactly what you should be watching tonight. Give it a go and let me know your thoughts.