Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)

Tom Tykwer directs Ben Whishaw, Rachel Hurd-Wood and Dustin Hoffman in this period adaptation of the modern classic where a murderer with a supernatural sense of smell kills beauties and tries to capture their scent.

One of the finest novels ever written, Patrick Süskind’s Perfume is an erotic journey into callous brutality, irony and sensual mastery in 18th Century Europe. This sturdy realisation of the dark magical realism does a fantastic job of visualising Jean-Baptiste Grenouille’s hyperactive nostrils. We share a world of filth, decay, beauty and delicacy with Ben Whishaw’s near-mute parasitic outsider. The stronger first half of the film has a camp, bigger than life performance by Dustin Hoffman as an ageing perfumer. He tags out and Alan Rickman comes in as a father desperate to protect his precious virginal daughter from the killer who stalks his region’s alleyways and boudoirs. Run Lola Run’s Tykwer switches to epic sweep mode here and loses the audience slightly after the superior intimacy of breathing the same smells as Whishaw for so long. The grand finale though is pretty writhingly unique and bravely lensed.


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