Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born poor and an orphan on a fish market and it’s immediately clear this is not just a normal boy. Soon he discovers that his sense of smell is extraordinary. This not only gives him a unique skill, but he also gets obsessed by scents and perfumes. One night, he meets a gorgeous woman in the streets and can only think of one goal from thereon: own her scent and ultimately create the perfect perfume. To pursue that goal, he ends up in Grasse, the perfume capital of the world and joins a famous but burnt out perfumer to learn all he can about this profession. His quest only leads to more horrible and disturbing consequences from that point on…
Sound and Vision:
Perfume immediately impresses with the vivid colours and its razor sharp images. You can’t help but get a bit closer to your TV-set to take in all the colours, the flowers, the interior of the shops and houses and the beauty of the characters. Especially the way the women (their extremely detailed skin, bright eyes and shining, flowing hair) are filmed will help you understand the unbearable but deadly attraction they have on Grenouille. The perfect example of how high-definition makes a movie not only better to watch, but also better in general. There are probably some small remarks here and there, but overall, this transfer is stunning!
The DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack doesn’t disappoint thanks to a decent musical score and a good narrator (John Hurt), but I can’t help but feel that they missed an opportunity here to draw the viewer in more. A better use of the surround speakers would definitely have been beneficial during some scenes (the ending, following scents, ..), so it’s a pity that the sound doesn’t enhance the experience as the visuals did.
Let’s be honest, the first time I read Patrick Süskind’s novel, I stepped away immensely impressed and flabbergasted. It was said that this book was unfilmable, and everybody who actually read the story, would say and think the same. So, after sitting through the film, I didn’t switch off my television with the same feeling as closing the book, but honestly, Tom Tykwer did an amazing job bringing this disturbing story to life.
The story is told with the necessary patience, attention to detail and restrained performances by the lead characters. Although Grenouille is a horrible human being with no sense of moral nor social skills, Tykwer tweaks him just enough to make him bearable for a movie format. Something that on the one hand makes the movie less impactful than the book, but on the other hand it was probably necessary to make sitting through the story accessible to a broader audience. The imagery and gorgeous, sometimes – and in one case definitely – erotically charged, visuals do the rest by perfectly contrasting with the horrid and disturbing acts that happen on screen.
It’s a shame though that having Dustin Hoffman as a perfumer jars with the understated nature of the rest of the movie. His presence suddenly changes the tone of the film, not the least because of his decision to make a semi-parody of his character, but even casting a famous actor like him seems to have been a wrong decision.
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer falls short of being the brilliant classic it could have been, but in the end it’s a fantastic go at bringing an unfilmable novel to life on the big screen. Those who can’t make time to read the book will have an unforgettable experience watching this Blu-ray thanks to the unsettling story, the mostly great acting and the gorgeous visuals. Without a doubt one to add to your collection if you haven’t done so yet.