Starring: Ben Whishaw, Dustin Hoffman, Alan Rickman
Director: Tom Tykwer
Running Time: 147 mins
Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer is a German film, based on the novel, about a young man who, with a superior sense of smell, creates the world’s finest perfume, but as he searches more something more beautiful, his methods become increasingly grisly.
There’s no doubt that this is a hugely intelligent film, with some amazing cinematography and directing that often really hits you hard. However, it seemed as if that for everything commendable in this film, there was some big flaw, and those constant irritations throughout ruined the main effects this film was trying to have.
But to start with a brilliant positive, the directing and cinematography worked incredibly well. While also intending to create an image of gritty realism in the context of this story, the camera work is able to create subtle tension throughout, which in turn makes this film constantly haunting and suspenseful to watch.
By far the most haunting aspect of the story was the main character: Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. A young man who appears to be ambitious and gifted, however it turns out he is a crazed obsessive that will do anything to fulfil his desires, and it was the relentlessly merciless attitude he had towards every single one of his victims just before their demise that was an absolutely genius touch by the writers, as it makes him not only seemingly invincible, but incredibly frightening.
In fact, in the latter stages of the film, Grenouille turns into a more silent but deadly killer, which makes his inner emotional turmoil all the more intriguing, in a very similar idea to Norman Bates from Psycho, which was fascinating to see.
However, there were also some significant flaws in this movie. Quite simply, away from the more haunting and psychologically frightening themes, some parts of this film are far too graphically disturbing. What’s worse is that many of those scenes which go too far with the nudity and sex go on for a long time, and make you feel extremely uncomfortable, making it difficult to want to entice yourself in the story of this film, therefore pulling you away from the whole thing.
Also, for the first 2 hours of the film, the true motive of this man’s killings is very vague. It’s said to be that he wants to create the perfect perfume, but for someone of his murderous nature, it seems far too trivial, so until the secret (which is ultimately preposterous) is revealed, you spend too much thought on trying to understand the fundamental element of the story, which again distracts you from the bulk of the drama.
Overall, I’ll give this a 7.1, because it is definitely intelligent and intriguing, however it manages to pull itself down in more ways than one.