Perfume : The Story of A Murderer (2006)

May 30, 2012

I had read the book and fallen for it. I have been seeking for the dvd, until I saw it yesterday ..

Perfume : The Story of A Murderer
"He lived to find beauty. He killed to possess it."

Born in a fetid fish market and raised in a dilapidated orphanage, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw) toiled his childhood away in a rank tannery run by the thuggish Grimal (Sam Douglas). Subsequently obsessed by smell, Grenouille's keen olfactory sense becomes so finely tuned that it eventually overpowers such human qualities as love and compassion. Though he has indeed discovered the unmistakable scent of a woman, Grenouille finds it impossible to connect with the fairer sex on any sort of meaningful level. Roaming the streets of Paris late one night, Grenouille catches the scent of a young girl selling plums and impulsively strangles her, later sniffing her nude corpse in a twisted attempt to preserve the distinctive scent in his memory. After persuading legendary perfumer Giuseppe Baldini (Dustin Hoffman) to take him on as an apprentice, Grenouille travels to the town of Grasse in Southern France in order to learn the art of enfleurage at a firm run by the highly respected Mme. Arnulfi (Corinna Harfouch). It is there that Grenouille becomes dangerously drawn to the vestal aroma of the young and beautiful Laura (Rachel Hurd-Wood), the daughter of widower merchant Antione Richis (Alan Rickman). Soon driven to madness by such a pure scent, the spellbound Grenouille continues to claim the lives of the numerous young girls in a tragic attempt to bottle the impossibly elusive smell of virginal womanhood.


Disgustingly beautiful. That was my first comment coming from my mouth after watching this movie. Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) managed to execute this 2 hour and a half movie based from Patrick Süskind's best-selling novel in 1986 well. I've read the novel itself 4 years ago and I could say that Tykwer was being faithful enough with the novel. The cinematography itself was solid. The long duration itself was well managed with the organized plot, as they presented the bad and the beauty of Grenouille beautifully. And how they narrated the journey like a fable, worked well, along with the growth of the story itself.

the novel

Narrator : "In the period of which we speak, there reigned in the cities a stench barely conceivable to us modern men and women. Naturally, the stench was foulest in Paris, for Paris was the largest city in Europe. And nowhere in Paris was that stench more profoundly repugnant than in the city's fish-market. It was here then, on the most putrid spot in the whole kingdom, that Jean-Baptiste Grenouille was born on the 17th of July, 1738. It was his mothers fifth birth, she delivered them all here under her fish-stand, and all had been stillbirths or semi-stillbirths. And by evening the whole mess had been shoveled away with the fish-guts into the river. It would be much the same today, but then... Jean-Baptiste chose differently."

Perfume : The Story of A Murderer used its remarkable visual to convey scents, both the pleasant (like the sight of France and Grasse, the beauty of the young ladies, the vintage cultures) and the unpleasant one (like the fish market -which was fucking disgusting- and the way Grenouille murdered those women). How they presented them in such intriguing ways that stimulate our eyes and ears, and as we pretended to please our nose as well.

Narrator : "When Jean-Baptiste did finally learn to speak he soon found that everyday language proved inadequate for all the olfactory experiences accumulating within himself."

Despite the sillyness it brought -like how Grenouille sniffing something like a lunatic and then being mad with no explanable reason-, this movie really was disturbing in such creepy yet pleasant way. It was original; disgusting, cruel, but beautiful in all of those aspects. It was brilliant, how they managed to put everything together in a whole perfect piece, as they delivered such a movie that brought tense, cruelty, creepyness, viciousness, selfishness, all along beauty, in such interesting and pleasantly disturbing way. And I love that they actually explained the perfumary things right from the beginning, so that it'd be senseful as the stories growth.

Narrator : "For the first time in his life, Grenouille realized that he had no smell of his own. He realized that all his life he had been a nobody to everyone. What he now felt was the fear of his own oblivion. It was a though he did not exist."

Have I mentioned about the unforgettable climax and sick twist? Well, that was it. It was clear that this movie really was beautiful in disturbing way. Imagine this; the beauty of France, along with a psychopath living among beautiful ladies, as murdered risen unstoppably. Imagine the obsession, the lust, the fear, the cruelty and sadism. It all worked out, very well.

Giuseppe Baldini : "Talent means next to nothing, while experience acquired in humility and hard work means everything."

Real standing ovation for Ben Whishaw. He portrayed Grenouille beautifully; a psychopathic young man who obsessed with the lustful and natural scents of women, as well as the tried to preserve the scents by his remarkable olfactory gift, which on his term, worth killing for (he literally smacked the victims' heads with blunt object, undressed them, polished them with layered of animal's fats, wrapping them in skin, as well as ripping their hair and did the layers on it, all as an effort to capture the scents of those women, and what was amazing that he did it in such smooth way). He portrayed Grenouille's ego very well, along with his skinny innocent appearance that -very well- hid his brutality. And what makes him creepier, that Grenouille talked less and he liked to sniff everything, creepy much. Really really flawless job from Ben Whishaw. Don't forget Dustin Hoffman who portrayed Giuseppe Baldini; the forgotten perfumer who discovered Grenouille's talent and greedily used it for his own good. Hoffman roled the eccentric Baldini well, along with his I-know-everything act and those smile of satisfaction, memorable! Not to mention Alan Rickman, who portrayed Antione Richis; a single father with his beloved beautiful daughter that was targetted as the settlement of Grenouille's secret formula. He did really well on becoming a protective father, a loving father and as well as a powerful and smart man. Brilliant.

Antoine Richis : [to his daughter] "Whatever his insane scheme is... it will surely be incomplete without you"

Overall, Perfume : The Story of A Murder wasn't that typical movie who would soon be forgotten, as all aspects in this movie were memorable enough to create the disgust and the pleased feeling in you. And of course, it worthed a million watch.

Narrator : "Within no time, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille had disappeared from the face of the earth. When they had finished, they felt a virginal glow of happiness. For the first time in their lives, they believed they had done something purely out of love."


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