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June 6th, 2006:
In 18th Century France, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw
) is born lacking a natural body scent of his own. In turn, as he grows up, he discovers that he has been blessed with an uncanny ability to detect the multitude of smells that swirl around him. He becomes an apprentice to perfumer Giuseppe Baldini (Dustin Hoffman
), who is quick to utilize Grenouille’s genius in his business. As he studies the craft and engages in competition with a rival named Antoine Richis (Alan Rickman
), Grenouille becomes possessed by his gifts. As his talent transforms into a psychologically damaging obsession, Grenouille becomes fixated on capturing the perfect scent, an aroma that encapsulates young womanhood. His experimentation turns abominably deadly as he seeks out victims to satiate his fascination. When twelve young girls are found murdered, panic breaks out throughout Paris as parents frantically seek ways to protect their daughters. A hunt for the killer ensues, but Grenouille is still overcome by his quest, searching for the final ingredient that will complete his masterpiece.What to Expect:
The film is an adaptation of Patrick Suskind’s acclaimed, internationally bestselling 1985 novel of the same name. Suskind’s lavish depiction of 18th Century France and his vivid and meticulously detailed descriptions of the abundant aromas have left many readers in awe. The author skillfully and exhaustively explores the many nuances of Grenouille’s highly attuned senses and his dark inner turmoil. In fact, the book’s voluptuous language and its many intricacies have instigated renowned director Stanley Kubrick to proclaim that it could never be adapted into a motion picture. Then again, part of Kubrick’s genius was his agony over everything he put his hands on so the project just may be better suited for someone who would be less overwhelmed with the material. Reportedly, Martin Scorsese
and Tim Burton
avoided the adaptation as well and Ridley Scott
, who was attached to direct, bailed out before shooting started. Article continues below
rises to the occasion and may just be the ideal candidate for the job. He’s a good filmmaker, but gives the impression of not being so overly calculating as to be daunted by this task. For his last full-length feature, Heaven, he employed a script that was abandoned by the late Krzysztof Kieslowski upon his death. Working in the legendary director’s shadow and keeping his sensibilities intact, Tykwer made a film that was spectacular at times, but ultimately lacked the same stunning beauty that Kieslowski was able to achieve so effortlessly. However, it is probably Tykwer’s breakthrough movie Run Lola Run that must be looked at for a comparison. The director’s control over the film’s dizzying structure suggests that he may be the perfect candidate to handle the novel’s complex narrative.
Ben Whishaw (Layer Cake, Enduring Love) is a classically trained British actor, relatively unknown in the United States. He will be nicely reinforced in the lead role by the much more recognizable Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman. Their inclusion in the cast somehow gives the film an irresistible quirkiness. Hoffman, whose career has been relatively quiet in the past five years or so, has quite a collection of upcoming projects, including Car Wars
, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, and Stranger Than Fiction
. Rickman is probably best known now for his Professor Severus Snape from the Harry Potter
films, but he can always be counted on to deliver a refreshingly skewed performance.
Perfume was shot in locations near Barcelona and in Southern France and judging by the trailers, the film’s slick and modern style appears to perfectly encapsulate a morally corrupt 18th Century Paris, soaked in filth and gloom. It will be interesting to see how Tykwer will depict the dozens of elaborate descriptions that decorate the pages of the novel. Most important, however, is that the film remains focused on the tragic protagonist. The ability to distinguish individual aromas among the thousands that bombard the senses is a fascinating and somewhat superhuman gift. I believe that the blessing and simultaneous burden of such a gift on a person is the theme that needs to be focused on.In Conclusion:
As far as I’m concerned, the more details, the better, assuming of course that the movie still retains a structure. I always find myself captivated when a film explores the inner workings of some minor or overlooked profession such as the perfume business. The little obscure trivialities help understand the subject from an entirely unfamiliar perspective and can aid in forming an allegory for much broader themes relating to our humanity. This is not going to be a standard simplistic serial killer movie, but rather an intriguing character study that will examine the monstrous crimes of the hero beyond their superficial brutality. The bleak nature of this period thriller may scare some people off, but it may help it become a cult hit. As an English language film it will at least spare mainstream audiences from having to worry about reading those pesky subtitles.Similar Titles: From Hell