Perfume-The Story Of A Murderer (15)

Film image
Tom Tykwer

The ViewBirmingham Review

Review byMatthew Turner20/12/2006

Five out of Five stars
Running time: 147 mins

Utterly captivating thriller, superbly directed by Tom Tykwer and featuring a terrific performance by rising British star Ben Whishaw.

What's it all about?
Based on the supposedly unfilmable novel by Patrick Süskind, Perfume stars rising British star Ben Whishaw (aka Nathan Barley's Pingu) as Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, an orphan in 18th century France who grows up with a phenomenal sense of smell. Wangling himself an apprenticeship with Baldini (Dustin Hoffman), a down-on-his-luck perfumier, Grenouille learns the secrets of extracting scent and revitalises Baldini's career in the process.

However, Grenouille's sociopathic obsession with capturing the scent of beautiful women turns him into a brutal serial killer. He sets his sights on the virginal Laura (Rachel Hurd-Wood) but her father (Alan Rickman) realises that his daughter is in danger and determines to catch the killer.

The Good
Whishaw gives an astonishing performance as Grenouille, maintaining an air of innocent wonder that keeps his character both sympathetic and fascinating, despite the severity of his crimes.

He's matched by a superb supporting cast. Hoffman is terrific (in the film's most light-hearted sequence), Hurd-Wood's breathtaking beauty is put to good use as Laura, and Karoline Herfuth makes a striking impression as Grenouille's first victim (and the source of his obsession).

The Great
The script is excellent, enlivened by John Hurt's wonderful narration, which gives it a dark fairy-tale quality (as well as recalling Dogville and Manderlay). There's also a great score by Tykwer, Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil that adds considerably to the film's haunting atmosphere.

Tykwer's sumptuous direction convincingly conveys the power of scent – you'll be smelling things for hours afterwards. He also uses vivid colours, music and detailed set design work to cast a captivating spell that culminates in a truly jaw-dropping finale.

Worth seeing?
In short, this is a thoroughly enjoyable, brilliantly directed thriller with a great script and a terrific central performance from Ben Whishaw. One of the best films of the year. Unmissable.

Film Trailer

Perfume-The Story Of A Murderer (15)
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Content updated: 15/02/2019 20:04

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