PERFUME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER. 2006. DIRECTED BY TOM TYKWER. NARRATED BY JOHN HURT. STARRING BEN WHISHAW, ALAN RICKMAN, DUSTIN HOFFMAN AND RACHEL HURD-WOOD. BASED ON THE NOVEL BY PATRICK SUSKIND. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is a big attractive weirdo. Sorry for the over-simplification, but there it is. Here’s the deal. He’s born as poor as a church mouse in a French fish market in the late eighteenth-century. He’s brought up an orphan and, as you can imagine, he has a pretty horrible time of it.
He grows up quite handsome but he has one unusual quality that sets him apart from other young men. He has an absolutely phenomenal sense of smell… That is quite unusual in a young man, isn’t it…?
Jean-Baptiste becomes obsessed with creating the perfect perfume. He works for a while for ageing perfumier Giuseppe Baldini, played by Dustin Hoffman, quickly absorbing everything the older man has to teach him and also revitalizing Baldini’s career in the process as a happy side-effect.
After a while, however, Jean-Baptiste decides that he has bigger fish to fry and he moves on. To a place called Grasse, to be precise, in which he hopes to learn about a scent preservation method called enfleurage.
His most notable accomplishment in Grasse, though, is to capture and murder a number of helpless women for the sole purpose of stealing their smell and adding it to his concoction, which is getting close to perfection by now. Close, but no cigar quite yet. The perfume won’t be complete until he adds to it the smell of the most beautiful woman he has ever seen, a fine young filly who goes by the name of Laura Richis.
Laura is the daughter of a rich man, Antoine Richis, who is more than competently played by Alan Rickman. Richis idolises his little girl and he’ll go to any lengths to see that she doesn’t end up like Grenouille’s other victims. Basically, the game is on and only one man can emerge victorious. Who will it be…?
This fantasy-thriller is visually gorgeous, as you might imagine a film about perfumes to be. You can almost smell the stench of rotting garbage decaying in the streets of eighteenth-century France, the visuals are so powerful. A bit too powerful at times, when you’re looking squarely at faces pockmarked and marred by deprivation and disease.
It’s an interesting and original concept too, but I didn’t like the ending. I know the film is meant to be a fantasy but I just didn’t buy it and I was a bit disappointed by it. Don’t take my word for it, though. Check it out for yourself. You might absolutely love it. Let me know either way, won’t you? I’ll be right here waiting to hear what you think. I’ll even put the kettle on.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at: