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18 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Incredible film; bears watching more than once!

Author: Catherine Todd ( from Oxford, North Carolina, USA
25 November 2002

If you've ever been around "the fashion world," or grown up reading "fashion magazines," you will understand EXACTLY what this film portrays: "Life, Exactly As They Know It!" The "choppiness" and "vagueness" objected to by other reviewers is EXACTLY why this is such a great film, why this is such a "Real" film: anyone who has ever been around "these people" will see exactly how the dialogue mirrors "real life" in the fashion / magazine biz. The "one real scene" between Hemmingway and the photographer (as described by another reviewer) is precisely showing how rare and difficult a "real" moment is to find. In fact, they are ALL "real scenes," wherein lies their power. The scene where the daughter, (not "drug addled," by the way, as described by another reviewer) who is the antithesis of "fashion," describes how reading magazines "makes her feel bad about herself" and her mother's instant rejection and leaving of the restaurant, is telling precisely the truth. And then any woman who rejects "fashion standards" is left alone at the table. The emptiness of the life and the constant ebb and flow of current, changing tides, makes any real or lasting connection impossible. This is even alluded to with Paul Sorvino in one discussion about going to the hip-hop look: something to the effect of "in Europe, classic can last... in America, you have to keep moving!" Then the hip hop boys point out that the baggy-pants hip hop look was born from poverty and "10 brothers and sisters, but the suburban kids will follow" even at an unaffordable $150.00 a pop! But that's the game!" Until I saw this film, I never understood why I was not accepted - could never connect with anyone in the "Fashion Crowd" when I lived in Paris and New York. Now I know why. What was there to connect to? People who "didn't want to be nothing" People who made their living preying on others creativity and beauty, at the cost of making everyone else feel like "less?" An industry that feeds on people's insecurities and wanting to "fit in?" I liked the daughter the best. She stood alone, sad and lost, but stayed true to herself in the end and went on home, wherever that might be. There are so many profound statements in the dialogue of this film that it would be worth printing every one of them here. Perhaps some film buff / college student might write a dissertation on this film alone. Who sang the beautiful music with hip hop and opera combined? I would love to have a music CD of the film, and am buying the DVD just so I can "listen to the film" again and again. Hope to see more. Thank you all! Great job!

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12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Unexpectedly Ambitious

Author: aimless-46 from Kentucky
13 February 2006

Wow, I never expected to find myself in the position of defending a film like "Perfume" which I only watched because Angela Bettis had a small role. But having recently viewed similar fashion industry/magazine films, "Fashionably LA" and "The Intern", I am unexpectedly well versed in this narrow sub-genre. Coming from that perspective "Perfume" is a lyrical masterpiece, both more ambitious and more successful than those two disasters. But since everything is relative this comparison may not translate into anything very useful for the prospective viewer.

First on the agenda is a cautionary statement about the trailer, the DVD cover, and the general promotional campaign. The cast is grossly misrepresented. Carmen Electra is given first billing but appears in only one short scene, a wide shot of her talking to Paul Sorvino. Supermodel Estella Warren is highlighted on the promotional poster but is just window dressing in two scenes. The five biggest parts are played by Rita Wilson, Leslie Munn, Joanne Baron, Jared Harris, and Sorvino, none of whom are even mentioned in the promotional materials.

But promotional misrepresentation, even to this extreme, has no relationship to the quality of the film. What "Perfume" has going for it (like Robert Altman's "Pret a Porter") is success working on two levels, as a glimpse inside the fashion industry and as a metaphorical extension (of what it reveals) to our day-to-day struggle in the competitive world. Whether we are artists, artisans, robots, or drones; each day is one of struggle with external competitors and internal demons.

How well the film works for individual viewers will be determined by the identification process, which will naturally be easier for those familiar with the world of high fashion or with other environments where creativity is exploited for profit.

Although "Perfume" was a scripted film there is considerable improvisation in the performances, with mixed results. For example, Harris and Mariel Hemingway do a photographer/model photo shoot where his improv is excellent and hers is somewhat lame. Although this initially seems like poor directing, on reflection it is more authentic than giving Hemingway carefully scripted lines and a smooth delivery.

"Perfume" is recommended for those who might identify with its setting or its themes. The production design, the editing, and the soundtrack are first class. But if you are annoyed rather than challenged by films with an elliptical storytelling technique and many characters you would do well to give this one a wide berth.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Hems and Hums

Author: tedg ( from Virginia Beach
7 July 2002

I avidly pursue these small straight to video films because sometimes you hit gold. Last year, I was rewarded twice with 'Panic' and the delicious '10 Things...' That film resembles this in some ways. But then this resembles so many other projects, most closely Altman's 'Ready to Wear' but done in a 'Best in Show' technique where the actors devise the dialog. I'm very skeptical of that technique because actors just don't have the skills or interests to shape all the dimensions of a project. But they do well enough here to not embarrass and in one case: Sorvino and Gallagher as gentle lovers they do very, very well.

But overall -- except for one major exception -- nothing in the film rises beyond pleasant spacefiller. There are lots of elements that might have been exploited but were not: the design of the eponymous perfume bottle, the state of the adrift daughter, the intelligence of the street designer (indeed, mirroring of one designer's acceptance and ones rejection of damaged children), the entrée to the big time through a sexual initiation and rejection, the drive to style and influence.

The sad thing is the lack of style in the whole project: It lacked any, and this seemed strange: it was as if the whole thing were told through an urchin's eyes.

There is one thing, one sequence, that makes this project worthwhile. As with most modern scripts, there is a self-referential bit. Here, the filmmaker is represented by a photographer who is presented with a promising subject. But she comes attached with 'dialog' that they both feel uncomfortable with. So they forcefully eject those that force these constraints and just ad lib the session. Naturally, that's what Rymer is doing with the film, so this scene is underscored. (The photographer is later rewarded for his intuition.) The importance of these scene is further emphasized by framing the whole film by two other sessions of this photographer -- the first is of him photographing nude women (obviously a nod to the expected exposure of the raw personalities of fashion to come). This is a glam heroin shot that emphasizes the wan 'pain' of the girls. Estella shows up and refuses to participate.

Then at the end, we have the same photographer, on the street, shooting a healthy-looking Estella while the drugaddled daughter walks by in the background. So that scene in the middle where the photographer/filmmaker takes things into his own hands is the soul of the movie. And it is a worthy sequence.

First of all, it features Mariel Hemingway, someone whose mere presence is impressive. The implicit pun on hemming is not beneath the level of allusion here. More powerful is the association with her famous grandfather (who killed himself) and her sister (who also killed herself). That sister made a big splash by endorsing perfume. Mariel is an enormously compelling screen presence, here at 40, and hypnotizingly lovely.

The dialog in this section is wonderful -- that stuff they say when the actual shoot is underway. In the story, that relationship between seer and seen, between designer and human art forms the armature for the whole evening: It is only a couple minutes -- he with his Mighty Mouse, she with her Moody Blues.

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16 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Ode de parfum

Author: George Parker from Orange County, CA USA
1 December 2002

"Perfume" is apparently supposed to be a behind the scenes look at the world of high fashion; designers, models, photographers, gurus, wanabees, divas, dilettantes, etc. all involved in their daily esoteric industry activities in NYC. In spite of an even temperament and a sense of earnestness, this project just proves again that a good cast a good film does not make. A lackluster flick which wanders from one stagey scene to another showing us stammering characters with little depth while leaving us feeling disconnected, "Perfume" is marginally entertaining at best. With no story per se, no one to care about, and no clear insights into the fashion biz, there's little reason to recommend this fragrance. (C)

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13 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Boring, Shallow, Artificial – Looks a Sequel of the Awful "Prêt-à-Porter"

Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
18 March 2006

I bought this VHS attracted and curious by the beautiful and unknown Estella Warren, highlighted in the cover of the Brazilian VHS, and the long list of famous actors and actresses, including Sonia Braga. However, this movie proves that quantity will never mean quality (only in "IMDb User Rating") – "Perfume" is indeed a boring and shallow movie, with very artificial lines. This crap looks like a sequel of the awful Robert Altman's "Prêt-à-Porter". The characters are not well developed, most of them only appear to give their names to the credits and create expectation of a good movie; the storyline about the world fashion is terrible and ambitious; and the awkward actress Leslie Mann, who plays one of the lead roles, has unpleasant and terrible tone of voice and corporal posture. My vote is three.

Title (Brazil): "Perfume"

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Little bit lime

Author: Juhani Koivumäki ( from Finland
13 February 2002

The mood and contents of the film seems to have something in common with Abel Ferrara´s style. People in the movie doesn´t really have anything to believe in. Life seems to be very meaningless. Tragic and comedy at the same time. But Perfume is a little bit lime. The idea of the movie is truly sweet. Actors having an excellent character history, and having them improvise all the scenes. Also strong Materialism depictions are great. The result is a little bit lime anyway. I truly recommend Michael Rymer´s fantastic work Angel Baby. That is truly a strong movie, even though a little bit underlined. Perfume is not underlined and that is the originality of Perfume.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

One of the top 30 films in my life!

Author: JP Pettinato
23 May 2002

This was my kind of flick, from someone who loves films but rarely finds one to rave about, simply stated, "it suspended my disbelief." Don't believe the other user comments, Perfume takes you on a ride not only through the fashion world but also through life's obstacles in careers, love, and most importantly family.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:


Author: emiperkins
9 April 2004

I really enjoyed this movie, and was surprised that a movie with such an all-star cast got such little recognition. Life is about relationships, and I felt that this movie showed a wonderful variety of family relationships without delving too deeply into cliches of "family life". Jared Harris gave a fantastic, understated performance, and Mariel Hemingway was phenomenal. I'm a big Jeff Goldblum fan, and was typically transfixed by his performance here. Joanne Baron played a caricature that was actually human. As for the soundtrack, I have to agree with the others who commented on the music. It was a beautiful blend of hip-hop and opera (most likely commenting on the budding relationship between Lorenzo Mancini and J.B.) that reminded me strongly of the diva's performance in 'The 5th Element.'

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Excellent genre-focused film

Author: sassycotb from United States
30 January 2006

I don't think this was meant to be appealing or entertaining as a mainstream film. I think that as an offering to the mainstream as glimpse into the fashion industry, it hit it's mark. You were invited into that culture for a little while, listen, trail behind and watch, and left to draw your own conclusions about some of it. It had enough of a documentary-reality media feel to it to be very compelling, if you wished to participate.

I hung out on the fringes of the fashion media industry for about 10 years when I lived in New York, and I can tell you that I had or heard some of those very same conversations - I could just about finish so many of their sentences. There really are the Janices who leave their families behind, etc., etc.

I appreciate a film or a book that doesn't spoon-feed me information, or tell me how I need to feel. I like to be able to bring something of myself to it; that to me is intelligent interaction, and what art at every level is all about.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

good film

Author: matkasouza from United States
29 January 2006

Just watched this film with my husband and we found it to be very interesting. Yes, there are lots of characters, and many of them have small parts. We found the movie to have a good plot line, that kept us involved with the story line through to the end. We have no experience with the fashion world, but had no trouble keeping up with all the business deals going on. Jeff Goldblum's character was well played as the "talent scout" who gets wounded in the end, and the mother daughter storyline was also well done. The attempted introduction of an "urban" clothing line to a prominent traditional menswear design house was a good twist. I like to see known actors in smaller roles. I would recommend it to others.

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