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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 January 2011
I have never read the novel and so went into this movie cold. But come the end, I was amazed. Partly, of course, this was because the ending itself in the square of Grasse is so unexpected and so ... well, so amazing! But I was also very impressed by the effects, by the acting (apart from that ham Alan Rickman), by the beautiful Ben Whishaw as the lead character Grenouille (who hardly says a word in the whole movie but does not need to), and especially so by the music, much of which was written by the director.

This is a film of two halves. The first is a Paris filmed in a cold and dirty blue and grey; the second sees us transported into the bright light of a colourful Provence. There is a great attention to detail and the film is extremely well-edited. I felt let down on a few occasions, such as when Grenouille knows immediately where everything is kept in Baldini's storeroom; and the amazing scene at the end sees much man-on-woman and woman-on-woman loving, yet no man-on-man. And overall, it is a shame that it was filmed in English with its plethora of competing accents.

As for the soundtrack, I was so impressed that I bought the CD. It certainly adds to the sense of bliss and wonder, as well as the aura of death and foreboding, such as the soft roll on the timpani as Grenouille gets up close to his victims. Elsewhere we have Brucknerian tremolos on strings supporting repeated sequences of notes. Effective use is made of choirs and solo voices and there is a Baroque inevitably evinced: I sensed musical links to such diverse composers as Stravinsky, Ligeti, Lully, and Ravel.

This is a review of the two-disc edition, so a word is necessary about the extras. There is the usual `making of', lasting almost an hour and featuring the director, producer, members of the crew, and stars - but not Patrick Susskind, the author of the original book. It was interesting to see how the square of Grasse scene was organised. There is then a ten-minute piece on location scouting; another ten-minute piece about the work of the director of photography; three minutes on mixing; and thirteen minutes on how to make a film about a book about smell. The producer, Bernd Eichinger, here remarks that the philosophical and practical concerns of addressing one sense (olfactory) through two others (visual and acoustic) were overcome when it is realised that the book itself did not smell. Unfortunately, there are no deleted or extended scenes in the extras.

This is an amazing film in so many ways and it will keep you watching right through to the very end. Ultimately, though, what both worries and jars is that we still hold some sympathy for this murderer of women. The name Grenouille means `frog' in French and I wondered if this was intended by the author as a take on the fairy tale of the frog who is turned into a prince by a kiss.
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on 18 August 2014
PERFUME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER [2006] [Blu-ray] [Dutch Release] From the Director of Run Lola Run! Based on the Best Selling Novel!

‘Perfume: The Story of a Murderer’ is a German 2006 thriller film directed by Tom Tykwer, written by Andrew Birkin, Bernd Eichinger and Tykwer and starring Ben Whishaw, Alan Rickman, Rachel Hurd-Wood and Dustin Hoffman. It is based on the 1985 novel Perfume by Patrick Süskind. Set in 18th century France, the film tells the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille [Ben Whishaw], an old factory genius, and his homicidal quest for the perfect scent. Narrated by John Hurt.

FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: 2007 33rd Saturn Awards: Nominated: Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film. Nominated: Best Director for Tom Tykwer. Nominated: Best Writing for Andrew Birkin, Bernd Eichinger and Tom Tykwer. Nominated: Best Supporting Actress for Rachel Hurd-Wood. Nominated: Best Music for Johnny Klimek, Reinhold Heil and Tom Tykwer. 2007 European Film Awards: Won: Best Cinematographer for Frank Griebe. European Film Academy Prix d'Excellence: Won: Production Design Work for Uli Hanisch. 2007 Germany Film Awards: Won: Silver Best Feature Film. Won: Best Cinematography. Won: Best Costume Design. Won: Best Editing. Won: Best Production Design. Won: Best Sound.

Cast: Ben Whishaw, Francesc Albiol, Gonzalo Cunill, Roger Salvany, Andrés Herrera, Simon Chandler, David Calder, Richard Felix, Birgit Minichmayr, Reg Wilson, Catherine Boisgontier, Núria Casas, Carlos Gramaje, Sian Thomas, Michael Smiley, Walter Cots, Perry Millward, Jan Cortés, Berta Ros, Alvaro Roque, Franck Lefeuvre, Sam Douglas, Joan Serrats, Jaume Montané, Bridget McConnell, Duna Jové, Karoline Herfurth, Timothy Davies, Dustin Hoffman, Dora Romano, Carolina Vera, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Alan Rickman, Sara Forestier, Ramon Pujol, Corinna Harfouch, Harris Gordon, Guillermo Ayesa, Anna Diogene, Montserrat Masó, Francesca Piñón, Nico Baixas, Enric Arquimbau, John Hurt (voice), Miquel Bordoy (uncredited), Òscar Bosch (uncredited), Carme Capdet (uncredited), Jordi Manuel (uncredited), Jaume Najarro (uncredited), Alberto Quintana (uncredited), Carlos Serna (uncredited) and Sergi Atencia Sánchez (uncredited)

Director: Tom Tykwer

Producers: Andreas Grosch, Andreas Schmid, Bernd Eichinger, Edmon Roch, Gigi Oeri, Julio Fernández, Manuel Cuotemoc Malle, Martin Moszkowicz, Samuel Hadida, Silvia Tollmann and Teresa Gefaell

Screenplay: Andrew Birkin, Bernd Eichinger, Tom Tykwer and Patrick Süskind (novel "Das Parfum")

Composers: Johnny Klimek, Reinhold Heil and Tom Tykwer

Cinematography: Frank Griebe

Video Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 [CinemaScope]

Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

Subtitles: Dutch

Running Time: 142 minutes

Region: All Regions

Number of discs: 1

Studio: E1 Entertainment Benelux

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: Adapted from Patrick Süskind’s clammy, high-toned international best seller, “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” is of interest mainly as an example of what might be called the sensory imperialism of cinema. Quite a few films, not content to stimulate the eyes and ears, try to conquer the other senses as well. Touch and taste are the favourites; hence the ubiquity of scenes that take place in bed or at a table, but an intrepid researcher could probably identify, amid the sighing caresses and laden forkfuls, an authentically old factory film tradition.

Tom Tykwer, the director of ‘Perfume: The Story of a Murderer’ and also, most memorably, ‘Run Lola Run.’ It tells the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille [Ben Whishaw], a skinny, sallow young fellow who grows up in the pungent atmosphere of 18th-century France burdened with a preternaturally sensitive nose. Every stone and blade of grass, every young woman’s cheekbone and belly button, every piece of fruit and hunk of rotting fish sends its essence straight to Jean-Baptiste Grenouille’s nostrils, sometimes from a great distance.

Tom Süskind goes full tilt in exploiting the lush, lurid tones of Frank Griebe’s cinematography, he rubs our noses in Jean-Baptiste Grenouille’s world by assaulting our eyes with what he smells. Thus the camera lingers on rotting fish, on animal skins at the tannery where Jean-Baptiste Grenouille serves an early apprenticeship, and then on the lissom ladies who become his victims.

Jean-Baptiste Grenouille’s episodic adventures are propelled along by John Hurt’s arch, third-person narration. John Hurt has also performed a similar service for another over-reaching European filmmaker, Lars von Trier, in his English-language theatricals, ‘Dogville’ [2003] and ‘Manderlay’ [2005]. Ben Whishaw, wan and jug-eared, does not quite manage to make Jean-Baptiste Grenouille either a victim worthy of pity or a fascinating monster. The fellow’s sensory endowment is meant to make him both an artist and an amoral killer, a social outcast who nonetheless gives the society what it really wants, but in the film Jean-Baptiste Grenouille comes across as dull, dour and repellent.

Jean-Baptiste Grenouille himself, in the unwashed streets of Paris and the fragrant lanes of Grasse, France’s perfume capital, this condition is a kind of invisibility; Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is consumed with the project of concocting a transcendental scent. After receiving some technical training from a master perfume-maker named Giuseppe Baldini [Dustin Hoffman], he sets out to perfect his own special formula, a recipe that calls for the extracted essences of 12 virgins and a prostitute, who all must be killed before the materials can be rendered. The women are thus bonked on the head, covered in animal fat and then left, naked and carefully posed, in the streets and squares of Grasse.

The town authorities panic, in particular Antoine Richis [Alan Rickman], a local notable whose red-haired daughter, Laura Richis [Rachel Hurd-Wood], conveniently possesses a natural funk that is one of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille’s coveted ingredients. So intent is he on finding her that he pursues her over hill and dale, using his powerful nose to track her as she flees. The camera dutifully speeds across the countryside, and when it lights upon Laura Richis, who is fleeing in disguise and on horseback, she turns around in the saddle, as if suddenly aware that she is being sniffed.

‘Perfume: The Story of a Murderer’ is a connection between sexual desire and the impulse to kill, that tried and true German Liebestod, is proposed but never really explored. When Dustin Hoffman, who looks marvellous in velvety face powder, departs the scene, he takes any inkling of being camp or whimsy with him, leaving behind an atmosphere that becomes increasingly arid even as it strains toward sensory saturation.

This is a dark, dark, dark film, focused on an obsession so complete and lonely it shuts out all other human experience. You may not savour it, but you will not stop watching it, in horror and fascination. Ben Whishaw succeeds in giving us no hint of his character save a deep savage need. And Dustin Hoffman produces a quirky old master whose life is also governed by perfume, if more positively. Dustin Hoffman reminds us here again, what a detailed and fascinating character actor he is, able to bring to the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille precisely what humour and humanity it needs, and then tactfully leaving it at that. Even his exit is nicely timed.

Keeping in mind that this isn’t the type of film we’re used to seeing, some of these scenes can come off very quirky. For example, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille sniffing the air and following his nose like some sort of psychopathic bloodhound does indeed look ridiculous, but if you allow yourself to buy into the film’s central premise, it’s easily forgivable. What’s more unconventional, though, is that it’s nearly impossible to like and let alone relate to Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. He’s a selfish, unflinching murderer, and all his means are carried out for narcissistic ends. This isn’t a case of a charming killer like Hannibal Lecter or Patrick Batemen; Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is so detached.

I really love this film because it is all character driven, beautifully acted and the cinematography is out of this world. Of course there is nothing fun about the story, except the way it ventures so fearlessly down one limited, terrifying, seductive dead end, and finds there a solution both sublime and horrifying. It took imagination to tell it, courage to film it, thought to act it, and from the audience it requires a brave curiosity about the peculiarity of obsession.

That doesn’t mean, though, that 'Perfume: The Story of a Murderer' isn’t worth watching. Quite the opposite, 'Perfume: The Story of a Murderer' is an unconventional and clever way to tell an incredibly interesting story, and one that I know I won’t soon forget. It’s not a perfect film, and like I mentioned, some scenes may come off as a bit silly. But overall, I definitely recommend 'Perfume: The Story of a Murderer,' as I’m sure you haven’t seen a tale of a freakish murderer presented with such depth.

Blu-ray Video Quality – 'Perfume: The Story of a Murderer' is presented with a striking and stunning 1080p encoded image that both thrilled and engaged my eyes, boasting vivid colours, strong reds and blues, and a stable, well saturated palette, especially the roses in the perfumer's shop look like a painting. Fine object detail is equally remarkable, just look at the crowd in the opening scene and the long shots of the cities. Every individual in the streets is clearly distinguishable and sharp. The black levels are deep and add a nice amount of dimension to what could have been a flat, shadowy picture. Most impressive of all is the texture detail. In facial close-ups, each actor's pores, and every strand of hair is crystal clear. Shots that follow the trail of a scent are also rendered wonderfully, in fact, they're so detailed at times that you almost feel as if you've been put within the mind-set of Jean Baptiste himself. As strong as this transfer is, I did notice a couple of lingering and albeit inconsequential issues. First off, there's some occasional colour banding present around unfocused edges, look at the close-up of the child's finger in the orphanage. Secondly, some random shots of darkness have a slight cloud of artifacting [A compression artefact or artefact, is a noticeable distortion of media, including images, audio, and video, caused by the application of lossy data compression], especially watching the night sky when Jean Baptiste stares across the water at the city. I should emphasise that these issues only pop up a handful of times, and they hardly mar this otherwise gorgeous transfer. All things considered, if you are definitely seeking the Dutch Blu-ray release 'Perfume: The Story of a Murderer,' won't be let down by the visuals with this beautiful stunning Blu-ray Dutch Release and of course the bonus is that it is All Regions release.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – 'Perfume: The Story of a Murderer' features an original English language track, which is presented using the awesome 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround track. While the film's stellar video transfer enabled me to further immerse myself in 18th century France, this audio package did not. To be fair, there's isn't anything technically wrong with this mix and it's just dominated by John Hurt's narration and the film's musical score. The surround channels aren't used to their potential, dynamics are not so strong at times, and the soundscape is relatively quiet. On the bright side, the score's instrumentation is warm and well prioritised, dialogue is crisp, even during soft whispers part, and channel movement is subtle. The strong suits of the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and delivers a more immersive overall aural experience than expected.

Finally, 'Perfume: The Story of a Murderer' is a fascinating and surreal exploration of a demented mind. Apparently, Jean-Baptiste has an alpha and omega for his plot and the last half hour of the film was truly the strangest and most unbelievable. We are whisked back to the gathering at the town square shown in the beginning. Again, I don’t want to give away this portion either, but it’s just as unbelievable as the first. For the most part, I did enjoy this film, strictly because the concept is definitely unusual. The most shocking scenes could be construed as not being very realistic, though. I was a bit confused by the ending, so I had to conduct further research before I understood it. Ben Whishaw’s performance as a disturbed individual with a seemingly placid demeanour was wonderful. Those into abnormal psychology will have a field day at this film. Interestingly enough, I came out of it with some well-appreciated knowledge: how perfume is made! Basically, go into this movie with an open mind and prepare to see some behaviour that will shock you, but does not detract from the storyline. Fans, like me of the film are sure to be entranced by the visuals on this Dutch import Blu-ray disc, and they will be easily impressed by the awesome and stunning DTS audio track and I think this European All Regions Blu-ray disc has a stunning presentation, compared to the USA Region A/1 Blu-ray Release. Sadly there are no Extras, which is such a shame, but despite that, it is still worth purchasing this awesome Blu-ray disc. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
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on 12 December 2016
This is a spot on film even if Ben Whishaw is in it.
It is set in France, where everybody wears rags and has to fend for themselves - scratching out a pathetic existence in terrible, unsanitary conditions. The streets are barely better than mud tracks and littered with excrement, and the authorities seem incapable of keeping order.
I can only assume it is set in modern times.
The dreadful Whishaw plays a sinister perfumier (or 'somebody who makes or sells perfume' for the Davina fans out there).
Born as a baby (as is the norm I gather) under a table in one of the awful markets they have over there (again the norm), it is apparent that he has a super power.
Not the type that would make a good DC Comics character like Batman, or even a barely passable superhero from Marvel that Batman could beat.
Oh no - he has the superpower of smelling things. Living in France must have be an horrific enough burden at the best of times but this must add insult to injury.
Anyway, bereft of any formal education and being a relative simpleton he oddly finds it difficult to fit into contemporary French society.
Outcast and unsure of how to use his power smelling things, he ends up becoming a perfumier (like you do) and decides that the best way to make perfume is to kill prostitutes and pickle them in huge jars.
This is where the film really struggles for credibility. A huge pickle jar, sufficient in size to house even a petite French prostitute (or Mademoiselle as they say over there) would surely be almost impossible to procure from a high street retailer. As a bespoke item it would surely cost a small fortune to have commissioned.
Either way obtaining one would almost certainly attract the attention of even the most inadequate gendarme, and applying for a loan to have such a vessel produced and delivered would surely arouse the suspicion of any underwriter.
Let alone the logistical and pecuniary ramifications of obtaining the sheer quantities of vinegar required to pickle a prostitute.
Even on Ebay, ten 1.14l bottles of Sarson's Distilled Vinegar For Pickling would set you back £58.60. I reckon you'd easily need 250 litres per prostitute, or 66 gallons per mademoiselle.
By my slide rule that weighs just shy of 551lbs. Any delivery company is going to smell a rat when you put that order in, and that's just for a single, average French woman. This bloke kills over a dozen of them.
No budding apprentice is going to be making the amount of money to fund such a hobby without running up huge debts, and this guy is homeless without any perceivable assets. He is hardly going to get the cash from a payday loan company (I hope at any rate, but you never know with that lot). Even if he did secure such a loan the interest would be crippling.
Having been arrested the French justice system leaves a lot to be desired. Having been found guilty the sentence is passed, at which point everybody has a massive orgy in the town square and forgets all about it. This does not seem to form the basis of any recognisable legal system in my book.
Anyway I won't spoil the ending for people but I did find some aspects of this film far more believable than Mr Whishaw's performance.
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on 31 January 2010
Haven't read the book so it's all new to me. The story of an olefactorily gifted murderer is an interesting idea but this drifts off into silliness.

I know it's adapted from a book but the narration is just too much - too much information - the audience aren't allowed to think for themselves, everything is spelled out. The first half hour is particularly bad - I could normally listen to John Hurt talk all day but I ended up yelling `Shut the fudge up' as he told me yet another thing which should have been perfectly obvious from the visuals. A voiceover can be very effective (see `The Assassination Of Jesse James etc..') but this just gets in the way.

Then when the `hero' becomes apprenticed to Dustin Hoffman's perfumier and John Hurt shuts up for a while the film gets quite interesting; this and the first part of his time in Grasse are the best part of the film. Alas he starts murdering girls in order to acquire their scent and it all goes downhill very quickly from there. The scene in the town square when Grenouille is to be executed is, well, two words came to my mind; Monty Python. The final scene, back in the horrible fish market where he came into the world, is quite effective, but for this viewer at least, the damage had already been done.

The performances are variable, to put it mildly. Ben Whishaw is fine, although for the first part of the film he just seems to stand around sniffing with his eyes closed, and for the second part he lurks in shadows a lot. Dustin Hoffman starts off badly (does he have to say `Mamma Mia!' just to prove to us that he is, in fact, Italian?), but his scenes with Whisaw are probably the best in the film. Alan Rickman is not good, and, in fact, looks thoroughly bored, while even a normally reliable character actor like David Calder overacts horribly as the Bishop of Grasse. The main problem with all the performances is that you don't believe for a moment that these characters are in the 18th century, they're just modern-day actors wearing funny clothes.

Oh and the CGI at the beginning of the film is useless!
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 February 2007
How exactly do you make a movie about smells? After all, a movie is all about sight and sound. Touch, taste and smell rarely come into it.

But acclaimed German director Tom Tykwer manages to make us smell things, in his most disturbing movie to date, "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer." This time around, the talented Tykwer abandons his usual lovers-against-the-world stories for a lushly-filmed, darkly comic story of olfactory obsession. Yes, that is what I said.

Jean-Baptiste Grenouillle (Ben Whishaw) is a man with a brilliant sense of smell, and zero body odor. He was born in a putrid fishmarket, raised in an orphanage, and later escapes from a tannery where he was working. He's enraptured by the many thrilling smells in the city -- he even kills a young girl, so that he can smell her lovely scent.

In his search for the perfect scent, Jean-Baptiste gets a job with a once-famed perfume-maker (Dustin Hoffman). But after learning that not everything has a scent, he begins killing women to try to distill their scents into the ultimate perfume -- with beautiful redhead Laura (Rachel Hurd-Wood) as the "thirteenth scent." But his ultimate scent has an even more sinister side, as his scents begin to affect the population in unusual ways.

"Perfume" is Tykwer's most unique movie to date, and the one that definitely identifies him as a cinematic master. There are lots of music that are evocative, sensual, colourfully beautiful, or unspeakably creepy, but not many manage to be all of them. "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" is all of those, and more.

Obviously a movie doesn't smell like anything, except maybe stale popcorn. So Tykwer uses sight for smell -- rotted fish, maggots, moldy walls from the late 1700s to show Jean-Baptiste's miserable origins. And he uses sparkling colour and windblown trees for nicer scents. Colour takes the place of scent itself -- bright red Lola hair on multiple girls, flowers that seem to pop out of the screen, fresh leaves, brilliant fruits, even brightly coloured food. It gives the visuals a fairy-tale vibrancy.

In fact, the scripting almost comes second to the exquisite cinematography. Yet Tykwer is able to bring across the powerful symbolism that brings the movie to life -- the smells are symbolic of love itself, which the scentless and amoral Jean-Baptiste does not have. He can only try to take it from others, with a finale that is the very image of poetic justice.

Jean-Baptiste himself is one of those love/hate characters, and Whishaw does an excellent job with his sort of half-crazy, intent stare. And there are some great supporting performances by Alan Rickman as Antoine Richis (Laura's dad) and Hoffman as the eccentric old perfume-maker -- he adds a welcome note of comedy.

A movie is dependent on sight, but Tom Tykwer creates a movie that you can almost smell. "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" is darkly comic, bizarrely beautiful movie, and definitely worth seeing.
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on 24 September 2007
After sitting through this film for what seemed like the longest 2 hours and 10 minutes of my life, I felt so compelled to write this that I have created an Amazon account especially. I beg you, do not waste your life in this way. It has possibly the worst ending to a film that I have ever seen. It's not hard to see it coming, but that still doesn't take away from your amazement at what you are actually seeing when it does. Why the likes of Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman agreed to have their names associated with this, I will never know. I'll never get that 2 hours back, and it that's what makes me saddest of all.
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on 13 January 2008
First of all, this seems to be one of those films that you either love or loathe, and rightly so. Your enjoyment of this movie will probably hinge on whether you empathise and understand the lead character John Baptiste - who, if you haven't guessed by now, is a murderer.

Yes, he murders people. If you can't get buy that idea, then you're going to struggle. But, he isn't a Jack the Ripper sort of bloke. John Baptiste kills because he is trying to create something beautiful, not because he's evil, but because his obsession leaves him no inner choice. Most people think that the film condones murderers - quite the opposite. Some even say it celebrates murder - not, it doesn't. It merely uses the ultimate sin of murder to emphasise the futility of obsession, and to heighten the characters isolation as a result of his extreme almost superhuman gift of smell.

It is important to state, that the film isn't intended to be realistic. It's more like an allegory, a fable - or even a cinematic dark fairytale. John Baptiste is played brilliantly, with enough innocence and creepiness to at times sympathise with, and at times pity. The visuals in this film are overwhelmingly good, with cinematography that is lush in places, and absolutely filthy vile! The evocation of smell in this film is very potent - and yes, there are more nose close-ups than in most films, but that's like saying Star Wars has a lot of lightsabre shots. It necessary to the film.

The music in this film is one of the best I have ever heard. A sumptuous, beautiful occasionally haunting piece of work that elevates this film to an incredible sensory level.

I'm not going to say that you MUST love this film. You might hate it, and that's up to you. If you buy into the leading character, you'll likely be rewarded with a fantastically original movie, and a complicated character. But be warned, this is about as far away from Hollywood as you're going to get, so if you like you protagonists clean cut and morally sound, Perfume will stink for you. To me, it smelt of roses.
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on 24 January 2010
I was drawn to watch this film when it came on TV as i was entertained by the split of people loving or hating it and wandered where my feelings would lie after having veiwed it.
The film is about the adventures of Jean-Baptiste Grunuis, a peasant born with a extremely exeptional sence of smell, by jingo this boy can smell anything.

After copping a whiff of some good looking lass he gets a taste of the ulitamte smell, the smell of beauty !!
He becomes hopelessly seduced, tormented and addicted by this smell and spends the main of the film on a compulsive mission to seek it out and own it at all costs.

He finds the 'essence of beauty' for the whole from nubile atractive young ladies and his uncontrollable lustful desire to obtain the smell result in multiple deaths of aforementioned young ladies as he attemps at unsuccessfuly, then successfully extracting it from them. The potion he creates from all the essences create a potent potion with some interesting side effects that help him transcend the usual shackles that law and reality binds all the rest of us too :)

Firstly, i have to say i can see where the people who hate this film are coming from. Having never read the book and not knowing anything about the story before watching the film i felt like i was a bystander or a third party kept on the outside and never really being allowed to get to grips with and become entwined in the true colours of the tale that was being woven. The main protagonist of the film is a silent sort of chap and doesn't really say much throughout its entire length. Obvioulsy its whats going on in his head (and nose) that sustains a large part of the interest in the book i'd imagine and its frustrating to realise this.

As a consequence of the above you don't really get to bond whole-heartedly with Jean-Baptiste my personel summery of him is 'mysterious weirdo' which is by no means a bad thing, i was entertained watching him forfilling his bizarre personal quest through gorgeously shot locataion around the south of france and was kept interested pretty much throughout the whole of the film however i never really felt a part of the story and as such it became just another slightly above average film adaptation of what by all accounts is a very gripping and engrosing book.
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on 31 May 2008
Having watched the fabulous and amazingly kinetic Run Lola Run more by accident rather than design, it was a conscious decision on my part to seek out some more of Tom Tykwer's work, to see whether this young director was capable of replicating the stunning visual immediacy and comedic timing of his most famous work to date.
Perfume (that's what I am going to call it from now on rather than its official mouthful of a title) is the story of Jean Baptiste Grenouille (played with a sense of dislocation by Ben Whishaw), a child brought into this world by his uncaring mother atop a pile of fish-guts in a Parisian market place in 18th century France. Jean appears destined for a life of drudgery and toil, but he is born with one talent, the most amazing sense of smell, and it is this talent that leads him into the perfumery business as the assistant to Giuseppe Baldini, a man who has fallen on hard times, and played with just the right level of arrogance and condescension by an almost unrecognizable Dustin Hoffman. Needless to say, thanks to Jeans almost supernatural sense of smell, the perfumes he creates are soon the sensation of Paris. However, Jean has another altogether less healthy obsession, the desire to create the greatest scent ever known to man, an obsession that leads him down the road of murder, as he kills young women in his strange desire to capture their scent.
From this rather preposterous premise (it's based on a novel by Patrick Suskind, and many people, including Stanley Kubrick, considered it unfilmable) Tykwer has crafted what at first seems to be a dazzling and intriguing film. As we are first introduced to the young Jean-Baptiste, we are also introduced into his world were smell is the primary faculty by which he senses his world, something that you wouldn't think would be easy to convey using a medium that is based on sight and sound. However, through a series of lightning quick cuts, we the viewers are assailed by the images that Jean-Baptiste smells as he passes through the crowded and smelly streets of 18th century Paris. However, when Jean-Baptiste leaves Paris in order to fulfil his twisted dream, the film stumbles somewhat, and appears to loose its focus to a certain extent. In addition to this, whilst Jean-Baptiste is without a shadow of a doubt a dangerous psychotic with little or no sense of right and wrong, the film tries to force the viewer to sympathise with this damaged soul, rather than let them form their own sympathies, and utilises Jean-Baptistes obvious but never stated desire for affection as both a reason and to a certain extent as an excuse for his crimes. Whilst the film looks beautiful throughout (even the lingering shots as jean-Baptiste goes about his grisly work are never less than lovely, if a little voyeuristic), and Whishaw and Hoffman are both admirable in their roles, it is hard to really connect or feel any sympathy for any of the characters (even Alan Rickman's grieving father fails to really touch our hearts).
This is not a bad film by any means, but its lack of emotional subtlety robs it of much that could have made it great, and its sympathies are going to make some viewers uneasy. A brave effort, but does not hold a candle to Run Lola Run.
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VINE VOICEon 10 January 2009
As someone who is not a fan of period dramas, nor always of book adaptations (as they rarely seem to surpass their source material), I approached Perfume with a degree of trepidation. However, as the credits rolled, I felt that I was still digesting the content of the film before me, with all it's sublime, sumptuous, and frequently disturbing substance.

The plot might scan like a variation on the clichéd serial killer motif: social outcast Grenouille (Winshaw) stalks women to murder them and then, using the methods normally reserved for capturing the scents from flowers, he distills their beautiful odours down to oils which he intends to mix together into the eponymous "Perfume". So far, so quasi-cannibalistic. However, the film excels on a number of levels.

Firstly, the imagery is choice. Director Tom Tykwer literally stuffs the screen full of arresting shots from the sublimely beautiful (blossoms on the wind, moist fruit, wisps of hair) to the gut-turning awful (the opening scene of our antagonists birth in the filthy fish market stands out in mind as one of the most movingly disgusting movie moments in memory). The effect is to create a kind of surrogate sense of smell, where one feels that the feast for the sense on screen is almost being experienced.

Secondly, Bren Winshaw is first rate as central character Grenouille, turning in a performance that at first extracts pity, then horror, anger, fascination, and then finally pity again. It is a multi-layered performance, and one that could well reveal more on repeat viewings.

Finally, the story itself, one of magic realism, primal longing for beauty, and hollow self-loathing resonates deeply as a kind of tragic parable. Grenouille is a man blessed/cursed with an incredible sense of smell, and feels he must hold onto the intoxicating scents of his female victims, but initially cannot, as they are fleeting. He describes the smell of things as being their souls, and yet he himself has no odour - as such he plays out like a hollow non-man searching for something to fill the void within, a kind of 18th Century Travis Bickle without the self-righteous indignation as if imagined by Angela Carter.

"Perfume" then is a feast for the senses, and one which lingers in the mind after the final frame. It's dark as hell, and be aware there is a fairly high level of nudity in here for a 15 certificate. It is also, however, an ever spinning coin, where one side is beautiful and the other nightmarish.
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