Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (R)

Drama 147 January 5, 2007
By Ed Halter
A multimillion-euro adaptation of a best-selling German novel, Perfume relates the life of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw), born in 18th-century Paris with a uniquely puissant sense of smell. He begins life as an orphan, sold into servitude to a brutal tanner, but in Toucan Sam fashion follows his nose into the rarefied world of perfumers, where his superhuman gift proves highly valuable. After a brief yet intense infatuation with the bodily smell of a comely fruitmonger leads to her sudden death, Grenouille becomes obsessed with discovering the means to create a permanent record of an individual's scent and to concoct the most powerful perfume possible. The pungent plot may sound preposterous, and indeed it's hard not to snicker early on, when Grenouille is introduced as a mere nose hanging in darkness, his inner life revealed via a digital zoom up his nostril. But Perfume's hyper-fragrant world strives beyond mere physical sensuality toward a spiritual erotic. It's a noble experiment in pushing the limits of cinema, but one too many sequences of ruffling silks and dreamy flower bouquets evokes little more than the ad-agency clichés of an elongated Chanel No. 5 commercial.
Tom Tykwer Ben Whishaw, Dustin Hoffman, Alan Rickman, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Karoline Herfurth, Sian Thomas, Corinna Harfouch, Ramon Pujol, Paul Berrondo, Harris Gordon Andrew Birkin, Bernd Eichinger, Tom Tykwer Bernd Eichinger Dreamworks

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