I waited a long time to review Perfume. I was fortunate to see it on the big screen in Europe. At the time I didnít know it would get shafted on this continent. However, I wanted to let it sit with me. It wasnít the kind of film that I reacted to with an instant response. I didnít know what I felt about it.
After having time to ruminate over it, I have come to believe Perfume is a very dark comedy. Itís the story of a man gifted with the worldís most amazing sense of smell. He becomes a murderer as he begins to try to collect womenís scents. It is a vicious plot and in a way it becomes more vicious as it finds humour in this story. Some may say the humour is there to break the tension of such a dreadful idea, but I think the humour is actually there to make it more disturbing.
This is a film which ties our desires together, the dark and the light. It examines two things, the ways we are willing to put our needs ahead of others, and the way we repress those desires we believe to be unspeakable. Maybe this is why this film did not get a major release in North America. Maybe we just arenít prepared to wrestle with this on a large scale let alone laugh at it.
Perfume is the film Hannibal Rising (or any Silence of the Lambs prequel) should have been. Where that idea went awry was its clumsiness in balancing the humour with the dark passions. Perfume gets that balance right and explodes into a logical conclusion which I wonít speak of here not to ruin the surprise. Some may say it is a shocking ending but I was familiar with the end of the book this is based on and I found that my imagination made the filmed version seem almost tame. Maybe the only flaw of the film is that it didnít go all Shortbus on us and give us the real end the story deserved.
Still, thatís a minor flaw and Perfume is a strong film with hints of real darkness presented in a very flattering bouquet. If your nose and sensibility isn't too fragile, make sure to take a deep whiff.