I was down with food poisoning and with a dizzy head, decided to watch a movie that made me feel even dizzier, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, based on the novel by Patrick Suskind and adapted for the screen, by the acclaimed director Tom Tykwer of Run Lola Run fame.
The movie is off on a slow start and has a certain sense of visual grotesqueness, with the sole objective of introducing the protagonist of this adventure Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, was is unceremoniously ushered into the 18th century Paris, France, in the middle of a fish market and in all that filth. He is born with a gift, which he realises soon, is possessed by him alone - a keen sense of smell, a gifted nose that can pick up any scent, but does not differentiate between the filthy muck where he was born or the lovely scent of the woods. But talent comes with a price - his quest to be loved. An orphan, he knows no good or bad, no social values, and simply survives the circumstances of his living.
It is not enough if Jean can only sniff the different scents, but wants to find out how to make the ultimate perfume and preserve them. His life in a tannery where he is sold into brings him in touch with Dustin Hoffman, an Italian perfume maker who has since fallen into bad time. His performance is certainly a little overbearing and far from kosher. It is in Dustin's laboratory that Jean discovers how to extract the very soul of the rose. How far would you go to extract the scent of the very soul of beautiful beings? Jean's obsession takes a serious turn with the string of murders until he is caught and soon to be executed in the most inhuman way.
To create a movie that evokes a sense of smell and its effect on your soul and those around you offers a considerable challenge, especially in terms of audio-visual appeal and Tom Tyker has effectively created such an ambiance. In the bargain, you could be forced to believe the movies twists and surprise turns. It certainly sets this creation apart from the rest we have seen in the past. The narrator, John Hurt's vocal performance is commendable, and certainly is a treat to listen to. It is all these elements that creates the fragrance of Perfume.