Friday, January 19, 2007

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)

Somehow both uniquely cinematic and literary to a fault, Tom Tykwer's new film is attempting to fill a lot of roles at once. It's trying to be an admirable distillation of Patrick Süskind's famed novel (generally considered unadaptable), plus it also wants to find a cinematically appropriate way to designate scents, plus it has to be the film that gets Tykwer's career on track again (did anyone even bother to see Heaven?), and on top of those requirements it also has to be a ripping good yarn, good enough to span two hours and twenty minutes. I'll be damned if it doesn't fill the bill of all those with grace and aplomb. Tykwer nails the eerie, arch tone of Süskind's prose easily - the film often comes off like an off-kilter black comedy - with an assist from John Hurt doing voiceover duty to fill in some of the less cinematic passages. Meanwhile, flash edits and careful, atmospheric cinematography bring off exactly the scent-inspiring effect that Tykwer wants; we may not smell the thing in itself, but thanks to the well-chosen imagery we can understand and create in our minds the sought-after odors. And the story, ah the story... the story moves at a brisk pace, allowing for a wealth of detail without becoming bogged down in stasis. Nothing, though, quite prepares the active mind for the fearless way the film flings itself into the void as a finale. Berserk is a fine way to describe the climax of Perfume, hallucinatory and transgressive in its blinkered inspiration as it is, and it's all pretty fucking thrilling. It's a strong period piece/half-nutters comedy prior to its final fifteen minutes; after that, it's impossible to ignore or forget. Pasolini would be proud.

Grade: A-


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home