Insanity reigns supreme in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, a tale whose off-the-charts screwiness obscures virtually all shortcomings. Based on Patrick Süskind’s supposedly unfilmable novel, Tom Tykwer’s film concerns Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw), a boy in 18th-century Paris who’s born (from the womb of a miscarriage-prone mother) underneath a filthy market stand, left to rot on the muck-strewn ground, rescued and sent to a wretched orphanage and, later, to work for a brutal taskmaster, and finally purchased by a down-on-his-luck Parisian perfumer (crazily overacting Dustin Hoffman). This last act of kindness is motivated by the fact that Grenouille has a preternaturally gifted sense of smell, which Tykwer visualizes via bravura camera swoops and zooms into the filthy, putrid pores of the Dickensian metropolis that Grenouille, in his own demented way, yearns to beautify with enthralling aromas. Tykwer’s baroque direction is borderline Grand Guignol, which beautifully meshes with both the craziness of his material as well as with Grenouille himself, whose desire to experience and preserve every imaginable scent leads him down a path of murderous madness. Thrillingly, hilariously over-the-top, Perfume is enraptured with sensory experience’s capacity for revelation and corruption, and its lack of inhibition – which also extends to its performances – ultimately results in a climax so mesmerizingly out-there that it’s impossible to resist.
You can say that again! The worst performance I've ever seen from Dustin Hoffman. He couldn't even muster a decent accent for the part.
Over-the-top acting. Bizarre story line. The costumes were gorgeous though!
Posted by: Jeanne | August 17, 2008 at 08:46 PM