Perfume: Story of A Murderer

In Emily’s vein of movies that are underrated: Perfume: Story of A Murderer, by Tom Tykwer, the director of Run Lola Run. The movie is about a throwaway-child-turned-perfumer who possesses a uniquely acute sense of smell. He becomes obsessed with smell and with the art of capturing scent. When he catches a whiff of the most ‘sublime beauty’ he can imagine and discovers it is the scent of a beautiful girl, he goes on a murder spree to create the greatest perfume the world will ever know, from – dun dun dun – essence of human! Okay, so it sounds really dumb, but it actually has some really interesting ideas. I would not call it just some murder mystery story or slasher or horror or anything like that. For one thing, Grenouille (the murderer) has no scent of his own – and this is from a man whose entire worldview is dominated by scent. Good grief, talk about existential crisis! Also, it’s just incredibly visually beautiful – fetishism is a largeish theme and the heightened color or focus on individual objects of the women (hair, lips, eyes) really mirrors that. It’s also very visceral – there are these just insane montages and sequences that function as allegories for scent (another interesting thing – scent as the main theme in cinema, a fundamentally scentless medium) that just make your stomach turn over, either with disgust or delight. That said, I’ve met few people who actually liked it and although I personally love it desperately, I can see why it can be annoying and unsettling. First of all, it is uncomfortably flip-floppy in the realm of realism. It’s shot in a way we are used to recognizing as being realistic. Then, throughout the movie, it sneakily throws in unrealistic or odd little seemingly-purely-symbolic little events and occurrences – not enough to make you shift your perception of the realism but enough to make you say ‘Wait, what..?’ Then you forget about them and the movie behaves for a while, until – BAM – the ending, which is basically out of unrealistic-creepo-metaphor-land. And before you have time to really come to terms with this betrayal of you by the movie, it’s over, and you had no closure, to time to grieve the loss of reason, no time to figure out what the heck was going on! But once you suspend that disbelief for a bit, there really is a lot there. I ended up buying the movie and the soundtrack, too.  Anyway, here’s the preview:

2 thoughts on “Perfume: Story of A Murderer”

  1. I have this movie on my Netflix queue, but mainly because Alan Rickman is in it…. I heart Alan Rickman. 🙂

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