Monday, July 4, 2011

Movie review: "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer"

It passed some 10 day since I watched this movie, so it's starting to get smudged in my memory. I planned to watch this movie for some time, although the reason is a bit unclear even to me. Few years ago I read a great book, "Jitterbug Perfume" by Tom Robbins. The book is fantasy-comedy-philosophy-etc mix that is very enjoyable and I would recommend it to all, especially those with great imagination. Anyway, I thought (or better to say, I hoped) that this movie has something to do with the book. It doesn't, but the movie is nevertheless worth a watch.

"Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" is a story about life of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (played by to me unknown Ben Whishaw). At the beginning of the movie we are shown the preparations for his execution, with ragged masses of 18th century Paris screaming for his blood. Then we are flashbacked trough his life. He was born in unenviable circumstances. He lived first in orphanage and then was sold as worker in tannery. His prominent feature is his extraordinary and superior sense of smell. On the other hand, he lacks any moral or emphatic constraint and posses only basic animal instincts of survival. And his only wish if to explore new scents, whether considered good or bad. We will follow his life in this exploration and later in his search for mythical ultimate perfume (which include murder, as you can guess from the title).

First, this is very "realistic" movie. By this I mean it shows the dirty and ugly part of human life. And this life was quite ugly in 18th century. Rats, dirt, not washing, working in practical slavery, and so on. Secondly, this is very violent movie. Grenouille is not picky with means of attaining elements for his perfumes. And it looks like he carries a bad luck for anybody who associates with him. Thirdly, this is a very strange movie. Contrary to all this violence, sex and dirtiness, it is very peaceful and pastoral movie. Grenouille doesn't talk much and most of the explanations during the movie are given by narrator (voice of John Hurt). Fourthly: it is very funny movie. Grim and bizarre humor, but funny nevertheless.

We also have few stars in the movie. I recognized Alan Rickman, and now on IMDB, I found that Dustin Hoffman also has important role, although I didn't notice him. The acting is, of course, great.

"Perfume" looks to me like one of those movies you either love or hate. And I somehow think that for most people it will be the hate choice. But for those who like bizarre, history and are patient, I think this is a great movie.

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