Monday, April 30, 2007

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

What a weird film. I've never read the book and its been a while since I heard any reviews of this film, so I had forgotten what to expect. All I knew was that it was set in France and involved someone with an astounding sense of smell trying to capture the scent of women... and murdering them to get it.

Its a slow starter. It took a long time for me to get hooked by the story - I could easily have switched off and walked away at any point in the first hour or so. But the film did eventually hold my attention. I guess one of the main problems this film has is that there is nobody for you to like and relate to. The main character is someone you would certainly cross the street to avoid, and none of the other characters, at least in the first hour or so, are in any way likeable. But at least many of the unlikable characters die in horrible ways when they pass out of the life of the main character, so at least there is black comedy there.

The bit with Dustin Hoffman should have improved the film, but he got annoying quite quickly and was part of the plot for longer than was necessary. The film really picked up when our perfumer got to Provence and started killing beautiful girls in quick sucession. For the first few it was reasonably entertaining, but after that it began to drag again. Had it not been for the Alan Rickman character and his daughter, I may have got to the point of switching off again, but somehow they kept me watching.

Along the way, the film manages to make you want the perfumer to kill all the girls he sets out to get. And for that reason I'm not sure I can forgive this film. Murder is a horrible thing and anything that seduces us into desiring it (even in fictional form) or even accepting it is not good.

And then we get to the ending of the story...

I'm quite good at suspending disbelief - most of my favourite books and films require this - but I'm sorry, I just couldn't suspend disbelief that much. The effects fo the completed perfume on the general public are just ridiculous. Especially the response of Alan Rickman's character - even when everyone else was seduced byt the scent, I can't believe that he would be too.

So was it a good film?

Visually, yes. But the plot was muddled and the acting was over. It was compelling, but perhaps not for good reasons. And the end was just silly - although I'm not sure how else the story could have ended.

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