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August 13, 2007 | by  | in Film |
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Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

This is the film adaptation of Patrick Süskind’s 1985 best selling novel. It is a disturbing and kinky fairytale of Jean-Baptist Grenouille – a young man who was born in Paris fish market in 1738 and was not supposed to live at all, just like his four siblings that had been killed by their mother minutes after they were born. But they survived and brought to the world with him a double curse of not having any smell of his own nor to be able to recognize, memorize, and later to capture every odor existed. He grew up to become obsessed by the idea of creating the perfect perfume, the one that would capture the fragrance of love, devotion, and desire. To create the perfume like that, he would need the ingredients that could only be obtained by capturing essence of the unique scent of young, beautiful women.

Perfume is really quite a poorly made film. Most of the story is driven by the narrator and that is just lazy story telling. It felt like I was listening to the book on tape. In trying to translate the nature of the olfactory senses to film the filmmaker fails miserly with cheesy and over-stylised special effects and camera work. Dustin Hoffman has a particularly embarrassing role as a Baldini, an Italian perfumer (his accent is ridiculous). The whole film is so uneven and I’m not sure the ending makes any sense.

On top of every thing else the film is so sexist (feminine mystique anyone) and heteronormative (lamest orgy ever) that I found it an unpleasant experience to view. Both Stanley Kubrick and Tim Burton looked at making a film from Süskind’s novel but decided it was unfilmable, and Tykwer’s film doesn’t make a strong case against that decision.

TOM TWYKER

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