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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 26.87%
Average: 10.45%
Pretty Bad: 4.48%
Total Crap: 8.96%

6 reviews, 31 user ratings

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Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
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by brianorndorf

"Wonderful, from one nostril to the other"
5 stars

“Perfume: A Story of a Murderer” is as intoxicating and still as the title substance. Through a meticulous directorial job by Tom Tykwer, the audience is sent on a macabre ride through life and death, madness and revenge. It’s a gorgeous motion picture rewarding those with patience and a taste for wildly obscene conclusions.

Born and abandoned in a decrepit 18th century Parisian fishery, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Wishsaw, “Stoned”) was given a horrible start on this Earth, but blessed with an extraordinary sense of smell. Sold into a life of hardship, Jean-Baptiste finds tranquility in the aroma of a lovely street vendor, but when their meeting results in her death, Jean-Baptiste is driven to madness trying to reclaim her scent. Finding his way to the doorstep of a master perfumer (Dustin Hoffman), Jean-Baptiste begins a hunt to learn the art of creating perfume, taking him to murderous heights to produce a master scent that will make his name legendary and settle his obsessed mind.

“Perfume” is material that even Stanley Kubrick couldn’t crack, making for an even deeper appreciation for what director Tom Tykwer has achieved. Adapted from Patrick Suskind’s 1985 novel, “Perfume” is elaborate material that demands a filmmaker patient enough to let the mysteries of the story do all the talking. Jean-Baptiste’s rise from abused pauper to a serial killer cannot be achieved through flash and horror. This is a story of a unique fixation, and Tykwer respects the substantial challenge Suskind’s work poses to him.

Tykwer is an incredible visualist (“The Princess and the Warrior,” “Heaven,” “Run Lola Run”), and “Perfume” reaches such operatic, hand-painted heights of life and death, sections of the film look as though they were pulled from the walls of an art gallery. Tykwer revels in the beauty of both ugly and perfection, contrasting Jean-Baptiste’s slithery, grimy ways with the clean aristocratic panic of the community he’s terrorizing with his purposed killings.

“Perfume” is ridiculous with production design and visual effect details, but it has to be. Jean-Baptiste’s world is nothing but minutiae; Tykwer methodically enraptures the viewer with an incisive imagining of Jean Baptiste’s range of nostril sense, and how his gift hounds him to a point of consuming feverish panic, and ultimately the mass-murder of innocents. All this to mix his special brand of perfume, made from the essence of dead females. It’s a role of arrogance and desperation nicely played by Wishsaw, but its Tykwer’s directorial stamina that brings the character’s dementia and thirst for perfection to the surface.

The climax of “Perfume” is one of those go-for-broke cinematic moments that could either kill a motion picture or vault it into greatness. When Jean-Baptiste’s slaughter cocktail is finally complete, he receives an opening to test the perfume on the incensed audience gathered to watch his execution. The result of his perfume’s debut is a moment of lunacy, lust, and surreal expression that Tykwer sells beautifully; offering a glimpse into the time-stopping, bodice-ripping intoxication that’s unleashed with a mere sniff of the murderer’s magnum opus of scent.

“Perfume” is a whispered, unhurried depiction of madness and uncontainable desire. Much like a perfume, it takes time to breathe in the many flavors of drama and suspense the film contains, and only in the end, when the memory of the film starts to melt away, does a full appreciation of Tykwer’s studious and remarkable direction come to pass.

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originally posted: 12/29/06 17:48:02
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Austin Film Festival For more in the 2006 Austin Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/09/17 Louise (the actual one) A masterpiece and very faithful to the excellent novel. Recommended. 5 stars
7/13/10 chris. wouldn't mind watching it again 4 stars
7/26/09 Jimbo I Found It was very well done 5 stars
7/22/09 Eric Terrible movie, would have turned off if i were not with friends. Moves downhil for 2 1/2 h 1 stars
12/04/08 Shaun Wallner Thought this was a good film. 5 stars
1/24/08 Kai worst movie ive seen in years! outrageously stupid, the scenario and acting comes off fakey 1 stars
1/18/08 Tony This is an intellectual parable, and is not about serial killers. 5 stars
11/19/07 The Russian Lunch Lady I like "deep" things, but this was too darn weird to be deep. 1 stars
10/30/07 Randy Marsh A review shouldnt give away the entire plot. 5 stars
10/24/07 Donald A mess... but the images of 18th century France are stunning. 2 stars
10/20/07 russell Brilliant. Despite the many misgivings, I agree that the film is spellbinding. 5 stars
9/25/07 Alison Absolute garbage 1 stars
9/19/07 jeanne Absolute narcissistic bollocks! I want my 2-1/2 hours back. 1 stars
8/21/07 Jennifer magic realism only works if its take on human nature rings true 2 stars
8/21/07 RodBell Until the Orgy an amazing black comedy then it just becomes a comedy, not handled well 4 stars
8/17/07 Stanley S Lavsky this movie was like a poem. I wish other directors had the eye and the foresight of Tyk 5 stars
8/14/07 scotty I loved it!! A stunning, enrapturing piece of art! 5 stars
8/08/07 Pam I thought it had a strong beginning, but fell apart. Hoffman was so miscast. 2 stars
8/07/07 Clint Jacobs Enthralling beginning but fizzles towards the end 3 stars
7/03/07 William Goss A well-crafted and compellingly peculiar curiosity, despite some third-act overindulgence. 4 stars
4/01/07 adam I want to be a perfumer! 5 stars
4/01/07 Karl-Heinz Schedwig Die Revolution frisst seine Kinder- i.e. the ends succumbs to the means. 4 stars
3/21/07 David Pollastrini I like the poster 4 stars
2/19/07 Nick Maday Absolutely amazing movie. I think I stayed completely still through the entire thing. 5 stars
2/02/07 kris Superb. I like the ending. Whishaw is goood. 5 stars
1/27/07 A Lawrence great 4 stars
1/22/07 Wu Tze Liang an amazing film, so true to the book. breathtaking scenes tell of how this haunted individu 5 stars
1/17/07 jess flintof what a load of crap 1 stars
1/12/07 Barry Allen Spellbinding! 5 stars
1/08/07 Archie loved it !! 5 stars
1/06/07 Janice Robillard The marriage of an amazing book to an amazing director yields amazing results! 5 stars
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  27-Dec-2006 (R)
  DVD: 24-Jul-2007



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