Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (15)
Dir. Tom Tykwer
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
Here’s something worth sniffing out at a cinema this week but only if you’re hankering for a tale of freakish obsession and psychotic murder laced with moral dilemmas and copious nudity… You’ll need to be able to stomach a fiendishly macabre plot, buy into some fantastical notions of sensory manipulation and not flinch from a large scale on-screen orgy which surely pushes the edges of what a 15 rating can show?
Anyway, Tom Tykwer is the man who brings the much loved bestseller by Patrick Suskind to life and he does it with some lavish, stylish direction. The film is aided considerably by having a great cast including veterans like Alan Rickman and Dustin Hoffman but even these are put into the shade by newcomer (and if you’re reading this in Biggleswade – local
boy) Ben Whishaw. It is he that plays central character Jean-Baptiste Grenouille; a man with a unique gift / curse in that he is obsessed with the fleeting world of scent. He has the most amazing sense of smell to the point that he can detect things going on around him from the merest inhalation and it is his ever more desperate attempts to capture the soul essence or life odour of beauty itself that leads to his murderous ways.
You see unfortunately for the gorgeous targets of Grenouille’s affections, the process of capturing their scent involves them being killed, shaved and wrapped in animal fat which is then distilled. Top of the sniff crazy murderer’s target list is flame haired beauty Laura (played with mouth watering sensory vulnerability by Rachel ‘Wendy from Peter Pan’
Hurd-Wood). She is the embodiment of Grenouille’s first dangerous crush which led him to kill (a plum seller played by the equally lovely Karoline Herfurth).
In order to help condense the source material’s provocative rich textures and evocative psychological idiosyncrasies a useful voice over by John Hurt is employed. This allows the filmmakers to inject some of the fine prose from the novel into the proceedings and fill in on useful incidental details.
Perfume was once deemed ‘unfilmable’ by the late great Stanley Kubrick, yet this successful adaptation manages to deliver the thrills, chills, scents and shocks of the novel with aplomb. It’s certainly no stinker, in fact thanks to Whishaw’s powerhouse performance you can almost smell the teen spirit dripping from the screen.
Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):
Action ööö - languid but tense
Laughs öö – not many
Horror öööö – nasty in parts
Babes öööö – yes - lots of!!
Overall öööö (sensory compulsion - highly recommended!)
"he's behind you...Karoline Herfurth about to meet her end..."
Darkmatters: H O M E