The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Movie Review-Perfume: Story of a Murderer

By Sara Pintilie/reporter

From the disturbing start to the absurd ending, audience members cannot tear themselves away from the screen..

They stare in awe with their jaws dropped and eyes huge. Perfume: Story of a Murderer reminds me of a car wreck; the more gruesome it gets, the more the audience watches intently.

But this borderline artsy/horror film about obsession has such an edge that it cuts the general audience (and not in a good way).

The story revolves around the life of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw).

Grenouille is born in the stinking fish market of a rotting Paris without a scent of his own but with an acute sense of smell.

He grows up in the slums of Paris, working most of his life in a tannery until he meets the great perfumer Baldini (All the President’s Men’s Dustin Hoffman).

Baldini, in a creative rut, reluctantly takes Grenouille on as an apprentice.

Grenouille starts anew, producing near-perfect fragrances and perfumes for Baldini in exchange for learning the secret to preserving scent. He needs the trait to create the perfect perfume: the scent of a beautiful woman, like the redheaded woman he accidentally killed.

Grenouille leaves Baldini in search of this trait in the fragrant town of Grasse. 

He finds a new object of obsession, a new redhead, Laura (Peter Pan’s Rachel Hurd-Wood), the daughter of the Grasse’s elite Antoine Richis (Harry Potter’s Alan Rickman), and begins his quest to make the perfect perfume.

The fragrance requires him to kill 13 girls.

Based on the 1985 novel by German native Patrick Süskind, Perfume had been deemed unfilmable by many directors, such as the late Stanley Kubrick.

But Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) directed the screen adaptation with such absurd broodiness that it actually works. The novel had been a favorite and inspiration to Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, and the bands’s “Scentless Apprentice” was inspired by the novel.

One of my favorite things about this film was Tykwer’s creation of a sense of fear instead of senseless gore.

It reminds me of the good ol’ horror movies when the thrills reside in the plot and not in the number of people the villain can sever.

Wishaw is noteworthy as the murderous Grenouille, but both Rickman and Hoffman seem out of place as their characters. Perhaps lesser known actors should have portrayed Baldini and Richis.

Though I did ultimately enjoy the dark, gruesome, gripping tale of a man killing women for their smells, it’s not a movie that most audiences will be able to stomach.

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