Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
Nothing to write home about. The cover is a group shot of the main characters of the film, and an arty shot of a silhouette of a woman who is partially made up of blowing rose petals. The menus are again so-so. Not bad, but not great. The only thing I can add is the cover shows the exceptional attention to detail that the film has when it comes to the look and feel of this time period.
Short documentary – The Story of Perfume is a short look into the making of this film. The film is based on a story of the same name, which was written by Patrick Suskind in 1985. Many filmmakers either passed on the project, or thought it too difficult to transfer over effectively on the big screen, and this short documentary offers some insight as to the process.
There really isn’t much else to note in terms of extras except for previews for other films, which I find hard to call an extra since it is really just advertising. Perhaps the reason for only having one “extra” is because the film is so incredible long that they felt no need to try to squeeze anything else onto the DVD, or they had no more room.
The Movie: 7/10
Perfume is a tale of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (played brilliantly by Ben Whishaw). The setting for the film is 18th century France, and the backdrop and period costumes are both lush and disparaging at the same time. The cinematography captures the essence of the time, and looks amazing.
Jean-Baptiste is born with the amazing ability to discern even the most intricate of smells, even as he himself is born without a personal scent. His gift of superhuman smell both haunts him and drives him. Eventually he finds his way to a down and out perfume maker Giuseppe Baldini, played by Dustin Hoffman, and he becomes the old man’s apprentice. The pair flourish with the ability of Jean-Baptiste and Baldini’s knowledge. It is during this time that Jean-Baptiste murders a young French girl, immediately tears off her clothes, and becomes enraptured by her scent. The scene where Jean-Baptiste hovers over the naked girl’s dead body is both bizarre and unnerving, but it is apparent the young boy has found a calling. Unwilling, or unable to stay with Baldini, Jean-Baptiste sets off to Grasse, a kingdom where most of the modern perfumes are created. His quest becomes to create the ultimate scent.
His quest leads Jean-Baptiste to kill young girls in order to capture there scent for his masterpiece. One of his prey includes the beautiful daughter of the noble Richis, who turns his attention, as do many of the residents of Grasse, to protecting their daughters from the madman who is murdering them one-by-one. Richis is played beautifully by Severus Snape, I mean Alan Rickman, even if he seems to over-do the ending a bit. His daughter Laura is played by Rachel Hurd-Wood, who also turns in a great performance.
As I stated earlier, the film seems to lack a real compass, and for some, I can see that this would be a problem. There is nothing here for people to latch on to, as Jean-Baptiste is a severely damaged protagonist. His drive is solely based on his ability to discern scent, and he is presented as an almost asexual, one dimensional character, which is the only way this should have been done, but it is hard to watch. The film itself kind of follows that theme. While the costumes and set are amazing, the disparity between rich and poor, and beautiful and ugly is apparent throughout the film, and creates a feeling of uncertainty. The film has a very polarizing effect, and it really left me in a quandary because I thought the story was great, I loved most of the acting, and I thought the story was presented brilliantly. On the opposite side of the coin I felt no real connection to Jean-Baptiste, the movie was agonizingly long, and the ending left me shaking my head in a way that I haven’t done since watching the second and third Matrix films.
I enjoyed this one quite a bit, I think.
Video & Audio: 8/10
The video in this DVD is excellent. The fact that the costumes and scenes are set up so incredibly well ports over nicely in this package, and I was often times blown away by how nice a “normal” DVD can look. I really enjoyed the look and the feel of the film, and the visuals were crisp and brilliant.
The audio was not bad either. I am of the firm belief that if I don’t notice that the sound is bad, I am not taken out of the moment, so I am able to experience the film. There were no instances where I felt the sound took away from my experience here, so I think the audio was adequate. Again, It wasn’t mind blowing, but this isn’t the type of film where by subwoofer was going to shake anyway, so the audio was fine.
So it is a particularly difficult film to fall in love with simply because it is overly long, and it deals with some material that kind of makes you squirm a bit. Jean-Baptiste is a psychotic, who seems to lack any real moral compass, and as such, watching him sniff dead corpses without any real sense that he has any remorse for the murders that he has just performed is a bit bizarre, and tough to watch. The film itself was really interesting, and I think that I enjoyed it. But then again, I think that I enjoyed it, which means I am not 100% sure. I was left with the feeling that I didn’t care much about Jean-Baptiste, and that doesn’t make me want to watch this over and over. I am glad I saw this one, but I am not sure I will be running back to see it again and again. It is a good film, but not one that I think most will fall in love with, so I say rent it.
Overall Score 7/10