Tolerable smells

Perfume – The Story of a Murderer’ would be the last film that one would expect from director Tom Tykwer. This period piece with its gentle pace and laborious set pieces is a far cry from the chaos and twists in the life of Lola in the highly kinetic ‘Run Lola Run’. While


being an extremely well made film, the only connect that I felt while watching this movie was the brilliant narration by John Hurt. I would go as far to say that the narration was the high point of the film.

British actor Ben Winshaw, plays Grenouille, who is the person in the title of this film. Orphaned, he uses his extraordinary sense of smell to help create perfumes for a veteran perfumer called Baldini (Dustin Hoffman in an extended cameo). Grenouille then moves on to the city of Grasse where he learns superior perfuming methods but in the process undertakes murderous practices that fulfil his experimental methods of gaining the perfect scent.

The story is simple, the picturisation is lavish, but somewhere, somehow I felt let down by the fact that there was nothing gripping about this movie. I strongly believe that a movie needs to grip you in laughter, tears, fear, love… but I did not feel any empathy towards the characters here. It takes an emotional actor and a great director to bring that out. While well made, this movie never elevates to a level where the viewer is completely taken in. It’s a movie that stands as an icon as dynamic as the jaws of a dinosaur in a museum.

I checked Tykwer’s filmography after ‘Run Lola Run’ and he doesn’t seem to have taken that as a cue to forward his career at a rapid pace. He needn’t worry at the moment cause he still has the legs to take him on a long run but the clock is ticking. Stick to the present Tykwer.


7 thoughts on “Tolerable smells”

  1. Good review! I agree that the movie is missing the element that brings viewers in. But I actually thought that the narration detracted from the visual/sensory experience. It’s always more effective to show the viewers, have us feel what the characters are experiencing rather than TELLING us what to feel.

  2. I think the book is much better than the movie. It draws you into the mind of Grenouillle, you become part of his torment and his genius. In saying that just as you begin to sympathise with G, it draws to an abrupt end. It is almost as if the author wants you to get close to the protagonist but not too close to him because at the end of it all, there is nothing that you can gain from him.

    1. Thanks for bringing up the fact that there is a book out there. I didn’t know this but I am sure there is more to it than what the movie showcased. Very few books have made it safely to the big screen and going by the reviews this was no different.

  3. I agree. Just when you begin to feel sad for the pretty daughter (you know she’s gonna be the final one to be taken), she’s taken away. And you try getting into Grenouille’s mind, only to come away with nothing.

    1. I actually came away with nothing from the movie. Totally emotionless drivel. With the lush sets it sure could have done with more. Maybe some Run lola style sequences… god knows what.

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