Monday, January 21, 2008

Perfume-- a movie review

Last Friday was movie night, and the selection was Perfume:The story of a murderer. The cinematography, costumes and narration were good. The story line as average, but the acting was below average. In general, a nice looking film, but not so well acted.

The story is set in mid-18th century France, mostly Paris, where a child, Jean, is born to a fish-monger mother, and begins his wretched life being discarded into the fish guts and filth that was a Paris street. He is raised in an orphanage and sold to a tanner. His only joy is odor, as he is born with an extraordinary sense of smell.

He survived working in the tanner long enough to be given delivery tasks, and one day he had the good fortune to make a visit to a perfumer owned by an Italian had-been creator of scents. He demonstrates his knack of identifying and creating perfumes so well that he is bought from the tanner and begins to learn the perfume trade.

Jean, while being gifted with a sense of smell, is bereft of any other human qualities aside from the ability to survive and the desire to preserve scent. He is an idiot savant with no social skills, no emotions other than a passion for smell, and no real concern for others. He accidentally kills a young plum seller in the dark streets of Paris, and after his ecstatic sampling of the odors from her recently killed body, he becomes obsessed with being able to capture those smells. No romantic attraction to the girl, no remorse in having killed such an exquisite being, just a desire to be able to possess the scent. He killed more young women, filled only with the obsession of collecting their scents.

Any joy or happiness in the film was short lived. Even the joy that inadvertently he brought to people through his creations was brief. His unintentional git of happiness also came at the expense of great sorrow and loss.

It should have been a better movie, really, although the story line expects us to accept a fantasy tale on top of the fiction. The acting, aside from a few bright spots from Dustin Hoffman, Alan Rickman, and the narrator John Hurt, was vacant and wooden, and in the case of the main character, almost non-existent.

A visually rich film with an interesting premise, poorly acted in general.


patrick said...

the movie was well made in general... it says a lot about human nature at least.

Anonymous said...

Really..? it's badly acted..? how can you say so... Do you have any background in acting or theatre..?as for me, the portrayal by the main character is extraordinary... it's not an easy character to play and Ben Whishaw did appropriate justice to it...

Will said...

Read the book, it's amazing.

Daniel said...

Sorry, ignorant me. Didn't even know it was a book. I'll look for it.