Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006) Poster

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The critics are wrong - Brilliant!
Naurya13 September 2006
With "The Perfume" it's like with any blockbuster movie: if the critics praise it, it's horrible - if the critics hate it, it's brilliant.

I had the chance to watch a preview of "The Perfume" tonight and I was very surprised: this movie is really good! Okay, it can't actually make you smell all the scents and odours, but the images and the music allow you to experience the atmosphere and the emotions Grenouille is feeling when he takes in the scents of his environment. You couldn't have done this much better without the use of real scents at theatres.

Although much of the story is told by a narrative voice (mostly quotes from the novel), the movie is still thrilling and exciting all the way. It's a very good adaption of Süskind's novel, sticking to the original plot concerning the major events, leaving away unnecessary subplots (although it's a pity that funny "lethal gas"-plot was cut out!) and shortening long passages. The result is well-constructed movie that is worth seeing.

The actors, especially Whishaw who plays Grenouille, have done a very good job. Like in the novel, Grenouille is an ambivalent character and you never know whether to love him for his genius talent or to hate him for his cruel murders. Whishaw's half-crazy, scary gaze made me shiver. Dustin Hoffman as old and unsuccessful parfumeur Baldini was very convincing... I loved the way he talks to Grenouille arrogantly although he recognizes how much more talent the young man has. Baldini is always good for a laugh.

The only thing to criticize is that the movie is not as brutal as the novel. I think they wanted to avoid the FSK 16 rating and so didn't show much violence, which in my opinion would have been necessary if you wanted the movie to have the same shocking impact on the audience as the novel. For example I was really shocked by the end of the novel - in the movie you hardly see what happens.

However, it's really a thrilling story visualized excellently - go to the movies and watch "The Perfume"! You won't be disappointed.
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A sensual experience
Spinelli_8614 September 2006
To my dismay this movie has been accused of dealing with the addressed subjects only on the surface and just trying to shock the audience with extreme imagery. I strongly have to disagree with that. "Das Parfum" may be a lot of things but shocking sure isn't one of them. Of course it is visually overwhelming and not only with pictures of pretty flowers and sounds of the wind softly shaking the trees on a warm summer night but what is this movie, if not a piece about the sensuality of the human being? Yes, it is about smells but smelling is just simply not one of the things you can experience while sitting in a movie theatre. This motion picture however comes very close to it. We see close-ups on maggots crawling around and fish getting their heads chopped of but also human bodies in all their perfection and people declaring their honest love for one another. It might be impossible to make the audience fully understand the world in which Jean-Baptiste Grenouille lives but it does manage to create a similar vibe that brings us close to what Grenouille "feels" when he smells. Tom Tykwer beautifully achieves to always put the audience in the right mood, with the help of an amazing soundtrack and great camera work.

One could criticize that Ben Wishaw is too good looking for the part but we have to keep in mind that this story is supposed to be about the character of Grenouille and the way he himself sees his live. Since to him, the smell is the soul of every being, his appearance does not matter to him. So we might as well thank Tom Tykwer for casting an actor who is pretty decent to look at for two and half hours.

Please watch this movie without any prejudices. Open your mind to images and sounds and try to imagine what your feeling could "smell" like. And even if that does not work you can still just enjoy a beautifully told story. Either way, you will be touched.
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Unusual. That's why it's great.
matheistin13 September 2006
wow, a serial-killer movie WITHOUT blood and action and wild chase sequences and stuff like this.

People who are used to fast Hollywood Movies certainly won't be satisfied with this movie. It's really unusual, as the novel is. It's generally difficult to convey something like a SMELL in a book or a movie, and it's also difficult to create a satisfying adaption of a novel. So my personal opinion is that The Parfume Movie is one of the few good adaptations, because it eagerly tries to convey the complicated world of smells and the world of Grenouille and also achieves it in many ways. There are of course some parts missing or changed if you compare novel and movie, but that is always the case with adaptations.

I saw the movie one hour ago and have just read some comments. Some of them are "disappointed" or "boooring", but most of these opinions are really not well founded, so I couldn't make out what EXACTLY was so boring and disappointing... However, I'll keep on dwelling in the magic of the movie, looking forward to other more positive comments...
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A world of its own
jeanbal21 October 2006
In this colourful and gripping film, you can literally "smell" the pictures. Sometimes they are captivating, sometimes awful, but they are always fascinating. A great, great movie about sensuality, desire, greed... and the quest for love. Wonderful cast (even Hoffman is excellent!), wonderful music (and the score is not "too" present, which is a good thing), wonderful direction. 2 and a half hours may seem a long time for some, but not for the real sensualists. The story and the film may have their flaws, but they also have outstanding qualities and in a perfect world Tom Tykwer should receive an award for his superb adaptation of the splendid book by Patrick Süsskind.

A must see. Or, should I say, a must "smell"!
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Really Excellent, but probably best if you have read the book
IJKMan15 September 2006
It was a masterful achievement bringing the concepts of scent in to a book, bringing it to the large screen has even more challenges, which I believe was superbly overcome in this film. The film is narrated to ensure the audience understands some of the concepts and some parts of the plot were "dumbed-down" to make sure the audience got the point.

Unfortunately, much of the book had to be skipped in the interest of time – much of Grenouille's childhood is glossed over and the bit after the cave visit is completely omitted.

Despite this, the atmospheric sets and brilliant acting (with the exception of a disappointing Mr. Hoffman, who really does not have the stature of a master Parisian perfumer) kept me completely enthralled.

As in the original book, there is quite a bit of nudity, which is tastefully done, but I will be interested to see how this is swallowed in America – it will probably get an 18 rating or be cut down, which is a shame, it was given a 12 rating in Germany.

In summary, a really great film, but probably best if you have read the book beforehand..
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Great movie, very good attempt to describe the book without being violent.
beeltink20 September 2006
I don't understand people who say this movie is dull, boring or bad. I guess these people are only into mindless action-movies with simple dialog where people get slaughtered in a brutal and visually gory way. If you have a mind and you are able to think, this movie maybe something for you. The characters in the movie are strong, you sympathize with them easily. It is upsetting why the main character is killing the girls, as it is actually unnecessary. The sceneries and costumes look great. I felt like I was there. The movie shows moderate violence, which is all just suggestive, you don't see any blood. I give this movie 8 points. It is a good movie, which I'd recommend to my friends.
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Better than I expected
evawatches31 August 2006
I'd only heard bad things about this movie in advance and I hadn't been too impressed with the trailer - I thought the actor playing Grenouille was too pretty, giving his behavior an almost sensual feel, which it definitely shouldn't have. However, when I had the chance to see a press showing of it, I knew I had to see it because Süskind's book was one of the highlights of my school career. I was pleasantly surprised - the movie is well done, beautifully filmed (I especially enjoyed the period details that always felt very down-to-earth and alive), and the main character was never attractive and actually quite creepy (although in my mind, Grenouille will probably always more resemble a Gollum-like creature).

Putting scent into images, however, is even more difficult than putting them into words, in my opinion, and this is where the movie lacked. It just did not grip me the way the book had, did not pull me into this world of smells, and after 2 hours I started getting impatient for the story to finally move on and wrap up. All in all I think the movie could have been better, but it was definitely better than I'd feared and is well worth a look.
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I was surprised
MehlAmKnie14 September 2006
I just read the book last week and watched the movie yesterday. And I have to say, I liked it. For sure, it wasn't as good as the book. On the one hand it is hard to visualize smells and on the other hand not everything can be shown during the movie. But for me, it was realized pretty well. Even you can not smell the things, you can imagine how they smell which may be due to the camera work, which was well done! For me, the actors did a really good job, too. They played their roles really good and according to Grenouille, I really thought that he was the Grenouille described in the book. The only "negative" thing I can say about that, is that in the book he is described as an ugly person, but Ben Wishow is not ugly. But to me, that didn't really matter. So, all in all I have to say, that the movie isn't as good as the book (which is mostly the case), but although I think that it is a really good made movie.
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Tykwer is a master
cilantro-420 September 2006
I didn't expect too much of the film as the producer, Bernd Eichinger, didn't succeed in my point of view with other book to film transitions like the name of the rose, the house of spirits or Smilla's sense of snow. they were all far too corny and even though each film had its moment, the films just weren't very good. I suspected the same to happen with the perfume. the teaser trailer was excellent, but the regular trailer spoilt a lot as it just showed too much and didn't capture the film's quality at all. so i entered the film with trepidation and was convinced otherwise. Tom Tykwer showed us again and again that he is a huge talent, be it winter sleeper, Lola runs or the warrior and the empress. the perfume is a visual feast. all roles are perfectly cast, the music, the camera, everything fits together like a perfect jigsaw puzzle. And the film isn't Hollywood-like mainstream like e.g. the Da Vinci Code at all. thank god. it has lots of black humor without getting cynic, it is quite amoral and at other times just immersed in beauty - and every penny of its 50 Mio euro budget shows. how much better to spend 50 Mio in the perfume than 150 Mio in crap movies like Wolfgang Petersen's latest. i am already very much looking forward to Mr Tykwer's next film. he plays in another league now.
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...but will Americans understand it?
sarastro75 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is an art movie with an ending that will puzzle many. As of this writing (January 5), this movie has not yet been seen by many Americans. It has however, based largely on its European release, garnered a user rating of 7.4 already; a quite good rating. It was undoubtedly the right decision to have it open in Europe first. Assuming that Americans probably won't be able to appreciate it as much as us Old Worlders, the user rating will probably go down once a few thousand Americans have rated it here. But let me try to prevent that from happening by explaining what the movie is about.

The ending is really what makes the movie (or breaks it, for those who don't see the beauty of it). It becomes clear then that what Grenouille was trying to do was create a physical distillate of love. Not sex. Not beauty. Love. And he did it. He created the perfect feeling of love, both emotional and physical; a love encompassing perfect eroticism (not just emotionless sex). And in the end, he did what lovers do: he joined with other people. Yes, they absorbed him entirely, meaning that he became part of them, just as a person in love wishes to become part of his or her lover. But HE represented the very *concept* of love, and his physical absorption by the common people represents their ultimate adoption and understanding of that concept.

Of course, this is an art movie and everything in it is symbolical. It amounts to a description of what love is and how it works. The movie is saying that love is something real which *can* be defined and understood, and the ultimate consequence of such understanding is that people join with each other (emotionally and sexually). Even if they are strangers. Because everybody is capable of feeling love, and one day maybe everybody will.

It's a beautiful movie. When I left the theater I hadn't pieced everything together yet, and thought I'd rate it an 8 out of 10. But having slept on it, I realized it was a perfect movie. Hence, I must give it a 10 out of 10.
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Best Big Budget
dreamwatcher19 September 2006
People who know the book tend to expect an exact illustration. This c a n work, but serves in any case to prove the book as untouchable "original" of which the movie manages or not to find appropriate images. The film has its flaws, I admit. I won't repeat the points others found. But the book has flaws as well. Art is always flawed. So Süskind fails to make his main character real. Through narration we understand smell to be deeply connected to our emotions, but we have no soul in the book to identify with. Therefore everything is left to our imagination.

Did anyone really wish to accompany an ugly, demented Grenouille two and a half hours long, and smile about the satirical and philosophical subtleness of the story? Film is a completely different art and requires the freedom to develop its own language. Imho Tom Tykwer made such a strong and overwhelming intro, the first 30 minutes are so good, that the rest of the movie, though good too, can't top it.

Compared to last years big budget movies the film is the most interesting since many years. Count "Aviator", but please leave out "Pirates" and "Superman"
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The most beautiful film I have ever seen
jessicahynes4 January 2007
Of course, (mercifully) we cannot smell what the Perfumer smells. In compensation we have hyper-real imagery, using stunning macro shots that are extreme close-ups in startling detail - the tiny hairs on a nose, the explosive splash of a single drop of essence falling into a pool. But more than the classic beauty was also the revolting beauty - maggots in a rat, the filth of the fishmonger, bad teeth, dirty hands - all in amazing, sometimes squeamish detail.

This film could not have been made in Hollywood - it has a unmistakeably European flavor and is unflinching in the details of early 18th century France. The story of single-minded obsession and remorseless killing in the name of love by a nearly mute actor is mesmerising. And Dustin Hoffman's merry turn as a foppish Italian perfumer provides welcome comic relief!
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The sweet smell of innocence…Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
jaredmobarak9 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Director Tom Tykwer has created a visually lush, unique piece of cinema again. From the highly original Lola rennt, to the visualization of the late Krzysztof Kieslowski's Heaven (the first part to a planned trilogy, the second of which has been made by another director), Tykwer's talents continue to make beautiful films built around emotion and characters. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is adapted from the novel of same name and, while I have not read the book, I can guess that the film version is pretty spot-on. With its narration and long silent pauses to help the audience experience the amazing gift our lead has, this story is read on screen through its imagery. As the camera pans lovingly over each object of Jean- Baptiste Grenouille's affection, one can almost smell the beauty as all other senses help to create a manifestation of the one we can't use. If ever a movie needed Smell-O-Vision, it would be this.

We are introduced to a young man whose very life was a gift from God. He was born on bad terms and literally steals his breath from the air, causing the beginning to his involuntary vacuum of life around him. It seems that everyone who touches or educates him finds an end to life once his work is done. Jean-Baptiste, with a sense of smell as acute as any could be, in fact has no smell of his own. His ability turns him into a leech of sorts, desperately needing to bottle the smells of others so as to never lose their essence, their soul. All those around him can't appreciate the unique odor they emit like he does. Only he can understand and see into another's soul, thus beginning his quest, and duty, to find a way to preserve that beauty.

Expect big things in the future from virtual newcomer Ben Whishaw. The way he envelops the character of Grenouille is total. He goes through the entire film uttering very few words, yet his expressions tell the story so well that you could understand it with all sound turned off. In each scene of him approaching his first love, a plum girl on the streets, (the radiant Karoline Herfurth), Whishaw is completely entranced by her odor. He approaches her with eyes closed and allows his nose to follow each contour of her body from a distance. The transfixion is powerful to watch as he discovers the most beautiful creature he has ever beheld; the consequences of his immursion, on the other hand, are devastating. Whishaw never plays the role with any malice or insanity. Grenouille is a simple man who has never been told the difference between right and wrong. He is a victim of circumstance as well as an otherworldly ability, which comes with an overwhelming sense of superiority and purpose, whether true or misguided. His is a tragic character, which never sees the error in his ways, and Whishaw never loses sight of that one attribute, letting viewers pity him at the same time as they revile what he is doing.

Perfume is a sprawling tale spanning the years of Grenouille's life and on his journey to learn the craft of perfuming, he meets many interesting and integral people. Dustin Hoffman plays Master Baldini, the man who first lets Jean-Baptiste in on the secrets of scent, nicely and with a sense of integrity. An actor who has the tendency of going too big in some roles, Hoffman reins himself in and plays the part to perfection. He is a famous perfumer whose days of fame are long behind him. Seeing the gift his protégé has reinvigorates his love for the craft and by teaching the boy, he revisits his past glory. Also effective in the film are Alan Rickman and Rachel Hurd-Wood. Rickman plays his character with intelligence and compassion. While all those around him see an easy way out for capturing a serial killer, only he refuses to be duped. As for Hurd-Wood, she is everything needed to make Jean-Baptiste's mission believable. This young girl has an angelic beauty that would catch anyone's eye, but it is her innocence that truly captures the meaning of the film.

Tykwer gives us a tale of finding beauty in the world and wanting to never let it go. There is a power to innocence that will cause adults to smile at the mistakes made by children along the path of their childhood. Humanity can be stopped in its tracks by it, uniting everyone into a sense of love for that which has not yet been tainted by the world. It does not matter how Grenouille was able to achieve the creation of his masterpiece of perfume, it only matters what that process resulted in. It's odor brought the Garden of Eden back to earth for a fleeting moment. It allowed all in its' path to have a clean slate and love each other, if only for a moment. Innocence washed all their sins away and it could not have happened without the determination of this young perfumer. With dark subject matter, the film truly succeeds with its underlying meanings. There are many allusions to religion throughout the fantasy and stories of a savior/messiah figure that can be taken many ways. Whether one finishes upon liking Perfume or not, it at least makes you ask questions and never manipulates you on the way. It also contains one of the best montage sequences I have ever experienced. As the murders are committed and spliced together with the meetings of the court on what to do, there is a gorgeous, operatic score driving us through. The passage culminates into one of religion's greatest feats, coincidence looked upon as divine intervention. Whether Grenouille went along with God's acceptance or not, he truly does succeed on his mission.
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Not another maniac flick
onembaby17 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I just saw this film which was released in Russia on September 14. I predict this movie will arouse disputes concerning all of its aspects: director's style, Ben Wishaw's contribution to the image of protagonist, the (possible) miscast of Dustin Hoffman (though I think he was incredible as Baldini), etc… I've got plenty of thoughts on it, but English isn't my native language so I'd better be short. I'm not a movie critic; I'm a mere mortal who really likes good movies. From this point of view Perfume is a brilliant feature. There are two things about it which I admire the most:

1. Director's interpretation of the story which is much more sentimental and at the same time more humane than Suskind's oeuvre itself. What Tykwer has described is a character's journey in quest of recognition and love, while what Suskind had narrated in a cold, distanced manner is the story of an inhuman vanity of a great madman.

2. Ben Wishaw's vision of Grenouille as a monster born into a monstrous world, who step by step is being transformed into a human with his suicide in the end being the highest point of his spiritual renaissance. This film is a work of Art, cruel and heartbreaking, that's why I give it 10 out of 10.
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Deeply satisfying, visually thrilling. Darkish, but exhilarating too!
bopdog26 December 2006
This is a bit of a fable, with darkish undertones. If I said this movie was transcendental, a sort of metaphysical morality play with deeply unconscious architypes, it would sound way too planned. All of that is certainly powerfully present, but those themes are masterfully invisible. All we see is an engrossing and thrilling and entertaining movie. The 'lessons', if any, only emerge as a tantalizing aftertaste of an exciting night at the movies.

I dislike horror movies, and slasher movies such as 'Seven', 'Copycat', and 'The Cell', etc. I was a little afraid this one would stray into that territory. But I trusted Tom Tykwer's directorial talents, and went anyway. I am glad I did! Yes, there is murder (duh... it's in the title), but the descent into human depravity was fascinating. It did NOT make me feel like a bath afterwards. It's almost like a metaphor for all kinds of human endeavors on this earth.

This movie had a lyrical, melodic quality to it--- superficially like Roman Polanski's 'The Ninth Gate', but without the silly attempt to artificially give it meaning. The historical vibe was incredible as well--- Obviously, I wasn't in France in the 1730s-1760s, when the movie takes place. But nonetheless for me, the evocation of that time was superb. I suspect you could watch this without any sound at all, and still be entertained (well, sort of).

I enjoyed the feast for the eyes, while my emotions were fully engaged, and my sense of wonder as well as my sense of mystery and that kind of excitement were all lit up. What a great, deeply satisfying movie! And by the end, you are actually thinking about things a bit--- contemplating more than the movie itself.
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dirty angel
kittyboomboom12 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I will begin this by stating that my sister sent this to me as a carefully bubble wrapped punishment. For what I'm still not sure but I will definitely never cross her again. Of course she tried to warn me and the fact that it took her 4 hours to watch it should have been telling.

It was in a word: atrocious. One of the most visually stunning pieces of garbage I have ever set eyes on, literally. While points are clearly scored for originality, costume and set design the beginning & ending scenes were nothing short of vomit inducing albeit for different reasons. Born in truly putrid conditions - Female Trouble birth scene easily comes to mind only this time super-sized with maggots, rotting meat and fish heads - Guillotine (or whatever his name was) was not meant for this world and the gift that signaled his existence and his mother's douche-baggery would ultimately be his undoing, a tragic flaw indeed of Shakespearean proportions no doubt. Everything he touches dies, everyone is dirty/funky looking and Dustin Hoffman has seen better days and scripts. He can smell through glass containers, in crowds and over great distances with visuals no less. He also leaves dead naked virginal sinead o'connor look-a-likes in his wake. I was not entirely certain if this was a joke until I read some of the reviews on this site and realized there are people out there who dug this mess. Surely nothing this silly should take itself so seriously but alas I was wrong because it did and was somehow able to convince a large portion of the viewing public. Now that was some mighty powerful juice...I have seen much much worse (R.O.T.O.R. anyone?) that's for sure but nothing quite like this. I was rendered speechless by the orgy scene and wanted to destroy my DVD player and possibly myself when he finally made it "home". Simply put: avoid like the plague - beware of random dingy homeless looking street urchins with bags of animal fat that only want to "capture your scent". They might just brew up a mind-numbingly awful film squirt their essence on you and force you to pronounce it an innocent dirty angel, get naked have monkey sex with a nasty stranger and write it a glowing review.
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Cringeworthy, nauseating, a complete embarrassment
verbal225 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I stumbled upon 'Perfume' while travelling round Europe last month. At the time I'd never heard of Suskind's novel, let alone the film adaptation and as a result, I entered the cinema without any preconceptions of what to expect. I was staggered. I cannot think of a film I've seen that is as cringe-worthy, nauseating and ultimately, as ridiculous or as embarrassing as this awful, awful waste of 50 million euros.

First, the positives (and there are precious few). The film is indeed beautifully shot. Medieval Paris is impressively realised and you really do get a sense of the grimy underbelly of the city that Grenouille inhabits. In addition, the second half of the film when the murders are taking place is undeniably tense as a cinematic experience.

However, by this stage all credibility has already been lost as a result of the lumpen and unconvincing script and the appallingly nauseous narration, which is representative of the general feel of the film as a whole. Think 'Chocolat' at its most sickly, with Juliette Binoche stirring a hot pot in slow motion to a lush orchestral background. However, while that film just about saved itself from teetering into the realms of the ridiculous, 'Perfume' plummets into the abyss like a suicidal elephant, lacking any sense of subtlety, finesse or restraint. Hoffman's 'paradise rose garden' scene after smelling Grenouille's first creation should be consigned to the film-making skip permanently. Nobody should be forced to see that.

Surely it can't get any worse I thought. I was wrong. The execution/orgy scene must count as one of the most unbelievable and embarrassing in cinema history, so much so that I actually felt sorry for Alan Rickman, as though his career was disappearing before my very eyes. Stumbling on from there we reach the ending, with Grenouille being crushed to death by a mob of filthy peasants acting for the first time "out of love". No decrease in the cringe factor, no less embarrassing.

Independent film makers struggling for funds for their projects will only look on in despair. A woeful mistake of a film, it has to be seen to be believed.
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The search for the perfect perfume - for perfect ion of an ephemeral effect
theowinthrop27 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The novel PERFUME came out about twenty years ago, and was one of those international sensations blending a mystery with the feel and texture of an historical novel, and adding either theological tones (THE NAME OF THE ROSE) or philosophy (PERFUME). Despite some differences with the novel the screenplay here does a fine job keeping the story of olfactory triumph and it's empty results to the front, holding the audiences' attention to the interesting conclusion.

Basically the story is the odd career of the 18th Century Serial Killer Jean Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Wishaw). Grenouille is born in the lowest level of 18th Century Society - his mother (who has had four children before) is a fish dealer. Too poor to have proper treatment with a midwife or doctor, she gives birth beneath her fish table, cutting the umbilical cord with the same knife as used on her fish heads. Her probable intention is to dump the child in the garbage of the food market, but the appearance of the mother and a customer's noting a sound lead to the child's discovery. The mother is hanged, and the young Jean Baptiste sent to an orphanage.

From the start the society of the 18th Century is disheartening. It is not the world of the philosophes but the French equivalent of WIlliam Hogarth's "Gin Lane". Drunkeness, whores, thieves, violent death, filth, is everywhere (to the point that the viewer can nearly smell everything). Everybody who gets the early Jean Baptiste are not likable people. The woman running the orphanage is greedy and quick to whip the kids (they sense something wrong with Jean Baptiste, and try to smother him - smart kids!). She sells him as an apprentice at age 15, but she is murdered by street thieves for her money. The tanner who apprentices Jean Baptiste is brutal looking. Jean Baptiste, by just smelling him, realizes he must do everything this man wants. As a result he survives the five year life average other apprentices of the man have - and eventually is sold to Bandini (Dustin Hoffman, in a nice supporting role) a perfumer. Shortly afterward the tanner is knocked down in a road when drunk, hits his head on a heavy stone, and drowns. Bandini eventually dies when his ancient home collapses, after Jean Baptiste leaves him.

Since his birth beneath the fish table in the market, Jean Baptiste has had an exceptional nose which he trains to identify all items by their odors. But this includes people (we tend to forget that people being of a family of mammals have body odors). Taken to Paris on a business trip by the Tanner, Jean Baptiste wanders off fascinated by an odor. He gets to a perfume shop and smells the world's loveliest artificial odors. But he notices the women are the customers and concentrates on them after awhile. He takes a walk, following a young woman selling fruit (apricots), and even is able to trace her by her scent to go to her hovel. He really does not know what precisely he is to do with her, but when they are interrupted he grabs her against the shadow of a wall, watching a man walking away with a prostitute. Jean Baptiste ends up finding he accidentally killed her. He then takes the time to smell her body to understand the scent of virginal innocence that he had found so enticing.

Later Jean Baptiste delivers some skins from the tannery to Bandini to be made to smell good with his scents. Jean Baptiste demonstrates his remarkable sense of smell and how it can enrich Bandini. So he purchases Jean Baptiste from the tanner, and soon is teaching him how to capture scent. Eventually Jean Baptiste goes to Southern France, and starts a career of killing women while capturing their body scent. After about seven murders he sets off a panic, and the town he is in tries to find him (going crazy in the process). Since nobody can understand the reason for the murders (none of the victims were ravaged) they can't figure out what he wants (although one townsman - Alan Rickman, in a good performance - suspects it is something shared by all these women). Rickman is worried, and with reason - his daughter (Rachel Hurd-Wood) may be targeted. Rickman should be worried - his daughter has been targeted.

In the end the story completes in an execution that goes awry (and that everyone tries to forget), and Jean Baptiste seemingly victorious. Yes and no. He has escaped his last real peril by use of his discovery, but in doing this he has suddenly gotten a revelation that while he has control over the human race he has nothing. Having never been loved, in an age of great cruelty, he is incapable of love. He keeps thinking of his first victim, and what he probably should have offered to her...but he's too confused to notice it. So his triumph is worthless. In the end he welcomes...well the end.

What is the scent of a love? PERFUME suggests that it is too costly to gain that secret unless you have an appreciation of love first.
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What a GREAT actor Ben Whishaw
nordain-114 November 2007
I didn't read the novel but i will sure do after I saw the movie the movie is fantastic the soundtrack make me live with the movie , the story itself sucks you in but the greatest thing in this movie is the great Ben Whishaw his acting was extraordinary i didn't see anything like that before his voice , his moves , his looks he was just great i am pretty sure that this young man will be one day one of the greatest actor in the history of cinema.when i saw the movie for the first time i was surprised by this actor and i was wondering ow come that i didn't hear his name before . i saw the movie for 2nd time and 3rd time to just see the performance of Ben Whishaw and every time it was a real joy . i recommend this movie to everyone and please notice the great Ben Whishaw
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Sniff, Sniff, Sniffey Sniff Sniff
mcdougaller26 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
From his grisly birth on the fish market stones among the maggots and entrails to his evisceration and destruction upon those same stones, the warped protagonist Grenouille of this bleak but beautifully filmed movie never fails to disenchant the viewer with his obsessive sniffing. Sniffing and capturing scent is his raison d'etre. Alan Rickman keeps his wits about him longest and infuses this mad bouquet with his sturdy sanity and wise protectiveness of his lovely daughter. Dustin Hoffman prettily plays a vain and avaricious perfumer, past his glory days, who uses Grenouille for his own monetary ends. But when Grenouille spends most of the film thwacking lovely young women on the head and covering them with animal fat, scraping it off, and simmering it to produce their essences, well, as far as I was concerned, Grenouille could meet his demise with a similar thwack at any time, the sooner the better. Such a miserable and creepy person. This film will delight abnormals everywhere to whom Grenouille can be a touchstone, his fame bringing similar sickos encouragement. For there *is* that what-if surge at the denouement. A man, however devoid of normal human impulses, could with such seductive skills rule the world!
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The Excess Chenel-Scene Massacre
swensond-126 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This a fictional, quasi-historical film beginning with the hero's hanging, then an outdoor fish market close-up birth scene where his evil mother drops him newborn into the mud and abandons him. For this Mom is hung and he is placed in an orphanage that makes Fagin's look inviting (his new brethren try to smother the baby). He is some sort of idiot-savant whose talent is being able to identify any odor. Next young Osmond is off to Paris where he catches a whiff of his first lady-love, who he runs down and strangles, and strips her while sniffing the corpse. There are lots more naked corpses (I think 12), the magic number he needs to scrape their odor-essences into a single potion that, when a drop is hoisted aloft on a handkerchief, causes the whole town instantly to disrobe and begin an orgy that makes Woodstock look sedate. The photography, both gross and beautiful, is very good. The music is excellent. The acting and direction are top-notch. But, to quote Luther as he debated Erasmus, the content is dung borne in a silver vessel. What is most disturbing is that the packaging has seduced anyone, other than Charles Manson and his girls, into thinking this movie is either Art or Romantic. Females under 18 rate this movie the highest (8.2); same with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (9.4). Why would young women want to see women like themselves murdered by a psychopath? Am I the only one who sees a problem here?
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'Cringeworthy' is an understatement
jomo69236 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I have never written a movie review on this or any other web-site but after paining myself through the embarrassment which this film was I felt that it was almost my social duty to deter anybody from losing 2 1/2 hours of their life by watching this nonsense.

I am struggling to find anything which this film provided in the 'positive' bracket, I suppose I could concede that some of the background montages are eye-catching/attractive and Dustin Hoffman's character quirkiness was mildly entertaining but even this is scraping the remnants from a pretty sour tasting barrel.

OK where to start with 'what was wrong'. It may not seem a particularly highbrow criticism to brand a film as 'boring' but I swear, you will wait for something to happen the entire 140 mins. of this film only for the embarrassment that is the 'climax' (no pun intended) to leave you cringing and wondering how this movie could even endanger the segment of success. Grenouille starts off with a very well developed sense of smell. By the time we reach the scene with him chasing after Richis he has somehow transformed this into a Spiderman like non-human ability to detect a scent from miles and miles away – simply adding to the film's already diminishing believability. There was also the ever-present and hugely irritating narration - constantly grinding away at, certainly for me, an already unimpressed and crabby viewer. Why must this movie cater for those who cannot follow a story and need to be baby-trotted through every stodgy scene? Admittedly the narration is probably an indication of the woolly and uninspiring script.

I simply do not have the vocabulary to sum up this review with enough pomp that could render it ground-breaking, but what I will say is that for those of you who do decide to check out this quaint and embarrassing film be prepared to be left angry, fully unsatisfied and lamenting the fact that the final scenes have left you with no hair left to pull out!
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Sleepy, Creepy, Dull, and Unsatisfying
MRavenwood22 March 2008
The notion of fragrance being combined with mystery and romance intrigued me, but I was quickly disappointed with this film. It begins with a heavy-handed conveyance of the message that the main character, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, is strangely gifted when it comes to scent. The opening monologue has already told as much, so it is purely a waste of cinematic energy demonstrating this repeatedly in images for the first 15 minutes of the film. Jean-Baptist's obsession with capturing fragrance is like an infatuation, or a conquest; there is no end to it. Once the scent he is looking for is obtained, it becomes a piece in a larger, but fantastically pointless appetite that I frankly didn't develop an interest in at any point. The actual plot of the story finally gets going somewhere in the second act, (but I fell asleep, so I can't be 100% sure). The point is supposed to be that he is working on his masterpiece fragrance. But there's no art to his craft, merely a process that is shown repeatedly that the audience cannot enjoy. The short-comings of the film, mostly have to do with the story and it's tedious repetitive motif. I thought Dustin Hoffman a poor casting choice and did not find his performance convincing. Alan Richman brought to the table everything his thinly conceived character was ever going to provide plot-wise. His skills are used mostly in the resolution to the film, which is is downright silly and abandons a quasi horror-sci-fi vibe and flops right over into surreal fantasy. The movie does not serve to teach or entertain the audience. If you like dark films with ambiguous morality and no sympathetic characters, then this film might work for you. I require a more relatable plot line, and thus found nothing redeeming in the film. It is sort of a Grimm's Fairytale meets Jack the Ripper with a pinch of "Like Water for Chocolate".
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Overiped and overdone to the point of comedy
Maciste_Brother15 January 2008
Wanna see a movie which has massive close-up of nostrils?

The main character juggling perfume bottles like Tom Cruise juggles vodka bottles in COCKTAIL?

Dustin Hoffman overacting?

A massive orgy that takes place in an open square during the light of day?

Pure love causing spontaneous cannibalism?

Well, PERFUME is the movie for you.

Even with all its grotesque imagery and ideas, I giggled nonstop while watching this overdone film. It's so bent on putting off people with a series of grim images and story-line that it created the opposite effect. It ended up looking like a Disney ride through misery. The idea is hopelessly silly: a guy with a super olfactory sense receptor is driven to murder because he wants to bottle women's scent because no one likes him. The director actually shows us, just in case we missed the point, massive close ups of Grenouille's nostrils or him walking around sniffing things. Because of the unusual plot, this story desperately needed subtlety and instead it got something from the Paul (subtle as a sledgehammer) Verhoeven school of film-making. It hits you on the head, repeatedly, that Grenouille is like the 6 million dollar man with a bionic nose. It doesn't help that the story follows this sad character from his birth to his eventual death, subsequently empathizing with this serial killer of sorts as it painfully shows us, in grand details, why he's such a tormented soul.

The direction was all wrong. Because the story was, hmm, unusual, the director thought that it needed some narration to tell us stupid viewers what was going on. The narration, by John Hurt, was grating, sounding like a kindergarten teacher reading a gross Brothers Grimm story to his pupils.

"The children sensed there was something about him..." the narration went on slavishly over every little detail about Grenouille's life. I laughed out loud anytime I heard these groaners.

If hearing the pedantic voice of John Hurt wasn't bad enough, the film also stars Dustin Hoffman, in full makeup and overacting mode. Honestly, the film never had a chance with these two annoying elements but the infantile direction and the exceptionally misogynistic tone of this non-story are what really sank this thing into miasma of rotten films.
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'Perfume' Stinks
TheColonel194722 January 2007
Two hours and twenty-seven minutes of boredom. You just know that when a movie has to rely on a tedious voice-over (John Hurt) to constantly explain everything to you (the movie must be at least half-way through before the narration finally disappears) that it has failed. I too am surprised at the number of extremely high ratings in these reviews. There are, inevitably with a movie of this calibre, things to admire about the technical arts of film-making, photography, acting and so on but on the entertainment front it completely failed for me. I really just didn't care about the fate of any of the protagonists. I felt so uninvolved it was almost difficult to feel sorry for the girls who are murdered. Stay away and do something useful with the two hours instead.
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