Movie Review: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)

If you were to ask me for perfume related advice, then I’d simply tell you that you’d gone to the wrong guy. All I can say “this one makes my nose burn” or “this one doesn’t make my nose burn”. So you better go ask someone else. But if you wonder about a perfume related movie, then I’d be happy to assist.

Mesdames et Messieurs… “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer”.

Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw) was born with an insanely powerful sense of smell, putting him on a quest to make perfumes. But as he searches for that ultimate scent, he starts spiraling a dark and sinister path from which there is no return. This setup shows a lot of promise, and even has some moments that could make for excellent drama. And yet I never gave a shit about anything going on throughout the story. That’s not to say I was bored, or that anything was outright bad, because it was all perfectly watchable. It’s just that the storytelling felt quite flat and lifeless. I’m not sure how else to explain it. The tale itself is interesting, but the way that it’s told just never felt like it had any actual purpose or even interest in adding actual depth to proceedings.

The characters, like the story, have interesting enough setups, but in execution falls somewhat flat, only really being elevated by the actors playing them. Ben Whishaw is excellent as Grenouille, giving a mesmerizingly restrained performance that was hard to take my eyes off of. Dustin Hoffman is really good as Grenouille’s cantankerous mentor. Alan Rickman is great in his role. Really, every actor in this kills it. Just wish the material they were given had more life to it.

The score for the movie was composed by Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek, and Tom Tykwer, and I thought it was quite good. It’s quite eerie, but also has an underlying sadness to it, making for a somewhat haunting soundscape that helped in keeping my attention through the movie.

Based on the novel of the same name by Patrick Süskind, “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” was directed by Tom Tykwer, whom I think did a mostly great job. Where the screenplay (which was co-written by Tykwer, Andrew Birkin, and Bernd Eichinger) falters at times, they often make up for it with the production values. Tykwer’s otherworldly direction makes for an almost hypnotic experience, especially when combined with Frank Griebe’s breathtaking cinematography, which often had me going “wow”.

“Perfume” has gotten mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 59% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 56/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” may have a lifeless narrative and slightly underdeveloped characters, but I can kind of recommend it if you want to experience great acting, music, and cinematography on a rainy Sunday. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” is a 6,08/10. So while heavily flawed, I can still say that it could be worth renting.

My review of “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” is now completed.

Meh.

Movie Review: Sleepers (1996)

It’s kind of incredible how something that at a point seems so innocent can turn into something horrible. This theme has been explored in film multiple times, “Atonement” (a movie I reviewed a while back) is only one example. And even though we’ve seen it several times, it is still endlessly fascinating.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Sleepers”.

The story follows a group of four friends. When they were young they meant to pull a prank, but it went disastrously wrong, which got them sent to a youth detention center. There they endured brutal abuse by multiple caretakers. And this plot follows the friends before, during, and after their horrifying time at this detention center and how it affects their lives. It might sound like I’m spoiling the plot of this, but I’m really not. I give you what you need to know to understand what it’s about… but I’m keeping enough away as to not spoil it. Anyhow, is this plot good? Yes. It’s dark, disturbing, and harrowing, but it’s still interesting and kept me engaged from start to finish. It is a long movie, and it does feel like it. While I’ve watched movies with much worse pacing than this, there were still moments where the pacing dragged a little bit. But those moments aside, this is a truly engaging plot.

I’m not gonna talk too much about the characters here, because their personalities and paths are better experienced rather than explained. But in the core cast of friends we have Jason Patric, Brad Pitt, Billy Crudup, and Ron Eldard. And they are all great in the roles. Then we have Joe Perrino, Brad Renfro (R.I.P), Geoffrey Wigdor, and Jonathan Tucker as the young versions of the four friends. And they all do very well in the roles as well. Then we have Robert De Niro as a goodhearted priest, and he’s great in the role. Then we have Kevin Bacon as one of the “caretakers” at the detention center, and his character is an absolute fucking scumbag… and Bacon is really good in the role. And then there’s a bunch of great supporting work here from people like Dustin Hoffman, Minnie Driver, Vittorio Gassman (R.I.P), Frank Medrano, and many more. Not a weak link in this entire cast.

The score for the movie was composed by the one and only John Williams and let’s fucking face it, the man can do no wrong. The score is emotional, tense, and just overall fits the movie very well, often taking scenes from “pretty good” to “wow” levels. Seriously, it’s great. Williams is a master.

This movie was written and directed by Barry Levinson and is based on a book by Lorenzo Carcaterra. As for the accuracy to the book, I can not attest as I have not read it at the time of writing this. But I can speak for how Levinson did in writing/directing, and I think he did a damn good job. His direction is very tight and really pulls the viewer into the scene, making you feel like you’re there with the characters. He even manages to create some decent tension throughout, which is really cool. The cinematography by Michael Ballhaus is also pretty damn good. My only real flaw within this whole “technical/general stuff” part is that there were some weird edits thrown into certain parts of the movie. I kind of get what they were going for with those small edits, but it took me out of the movie for a moment or two when it happened. It’s not enough to break the movie for me, but it does bring it down a couple of notches.

This movie has gotten a little bit of a mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 74% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 49/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10.

“Sleepers” isn’t an easy watch, but it’s definitely worth your time. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and really good directing/cinematography. As previously mentioned, I did have a couple of flaws with it. The pacing in a couple of moments dragged a little, and there were a couple of weird edits. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Sleepers” is an 8,99/10. While flawed, It is still definitely worth buying.

My review of “Sleepers” is now completed.

If you sleep through this movie, I will appreciate the pun and then yell at you.