I loved Tykwer’s Run Lola Run, The Princess and the Warrior, and Heaven, but I couldn’t get my heart into Perfume.
I don’t think it’s Tykwer’s fault. In fact, I think he is one of the cleverest and most intelligent directors working today, right up there with Cronenberg. But Tykwer’s hampered by a story that focuses on a character that is, let’s face it, a monster.
Serial murderer movies are a dime a dozen these days. Few — if any — can ever measure up to the intellectual and emotional cat and mouse game seen in Silence of the Lambs. What I found so off-putting in Perfume is the lack of engagement the main character has with people. Even his relationship with the great Baldini (brilliantly played by Dustin Hoffman) is distant.
I’m sure that’s the way it’s supposed to be but because of that I found I could not relate to the main character and that left me cold, despite all the rest of it — the great performances, the beautiful photography, and, of course, the amazing focus on the murderer’s sense of smell that is the focus of the story.
Perfume is definitely worth seeing, and I intend to read the novel, but be prepared to start fidgeting when events move outside Paris, which is so beautifully — and grungily — portrayed.
Review copyright (c) 2007 by Dennis D. McDonald