At first glance Perfume: The Story of a Murderer looks like a classic chick flick. A murderer who kills his victims with perfume? Is that it, I don’t want to watch that shit! The truth is that Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is a highly subversive, sensual, and perverse serial killer movie like no other. First of all, it is very original, featuring an excellent script and beautiful cinematography that will take you into the past. It has that sensual look, that type of story and characters that draws you in, and lock your attention to the screen. It is based on Patrick Süskind’s 1985 novel Perfume and I have to admit that this is one of the best adaptations that I have seen in the past few years.
And with a budget of over $60 million, they could go nuts, not just with those stunningly gorgeous and huge sets but also with the cast. We’ve got two veterans Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman giving expectedly great performances and one hell of a newcomer in Ben Whishaw. The relatively unknown supporting cast also did a terrific job. So, everything you need to know about Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is right there, in the title. This is a story about perfumes, serial killers, and life in 18th-century France. Minus the perfumes, the whole thing smells like the French version of Jack the Ripper.
We will be following Jean-Baptiste Grenouille who has an extraordinary sense of smell. He will use this to create beautiful perfumes. Born in one of the ugliest and smelliest places on Earth, Grenouille will slowly work his way up the social ladder, first working in a tannery as an assistant, delivering packages and doing other menial work. However, one of those packages will be delivered to a certain Perfume shop, where his talents will not go unnoticed…
I do not want to reveal too much of the story to avoid any possible spoilers. Moving on, you should know that Perfume: The Story of a Murderer has a runtime of whopping two and a half hours. This means it’s going to take up your entire evening but it will be so worth it. Or you can play it on one of those lazy Sundays or any day of the week when you’re feeling up for some period escapism. Okay, that might have come out wrong. Damn it, I keep doing it, I’ll stop now. You can comfortably say that all serial killer movies feel the same. They all feel the same apart from the great ones, like the one we’re talking about today.
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is gripping, creative, and atmospheric. The storytelling is also excellent with the narrator bringing us closer and closer to the events we’re seeing. Too bad we won’t be able to smell them, although those rough neighborhoods might be a bit problematic in that case. Here’s a fun fact, did you know that several Parisian streets are named after different variations of shit? Rue Merdeux, rue Merdelet, rue Merdusson, rue des Merdons, and rue Merdiere are pretty self-explanatory. And so is the rue du Pipi.
Right from the opening scene, you’ll see just how lavish and grand this production is. Thousands of extras, excellent camera work, and very real buildings will plunge you into 18th-century France. They went overboard in an effort to create this overwhelming sense of authenticity. For example, they used over two and a half tons of fish for the fish market scenes to make it feel as authentic as possible. The smell was so strong that people standing six miles away from the shoot could smell it. When it comes to the crew, there were 67 speaking roles, 5200 extras, 520 technicians, and 102 sets.
So, if you’re looking for one of those big, authentic, and immersive period movies, this one’s a perfect choice. It will show you just how filthy, nasty, and fascinating was it to live in that type of environment. Finally, if you’re looking for movies like Perfume: The Story of a Murder I recommend you start with two French movies: Brotherhood of the Wolf and Vidocq. And then you can move on to From Hell, a story about Jack the Ripper starring Johnny Depp. And I can’t help recommending Quills, a movie about the infamous Marquis de Sade.
Director: Tom Tykwer
Writers: Andrew Birkin, Bernd Eichinger, Tom Tykwer
Cast: Ben Whishaw,Dustin Hoffman, Alan Rickman, Francesc Albiol, Richard Felix
Fun Facts: Kurt Cobain was a huge fan of the original novel and carried it in his pocket. Moreover, Nirvana’s song Scentless Apprentice was inspired by it.
IMDb Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0396171/