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Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)

Obsession can cause the unthinkable.

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 147 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15


Perfume? France? Why the bleeding hell would I want to watch a movie about that? Tom Tykwer’s movie – based on the book by Patrick Suskind – is actually a surprisingly dark, thriller that’s got enough originality to put it nose and shoulders above many others.

Perfume: The Story of a Murder is about Jean Baptiste Grenouille (Whishaw), born in the filthy fish markets of Paris, but a remarkable man with a superhuman sense of smell. Putting this skill to use JBG goes to work for master perfumer Giuseppe Baldini (Hoffman), learns the trade and helps make his boss a very wealthy man. After leaving Paris, his attempts to create the world’s finest perfume lead him down a dark path – which, if you have anything on upstairs, you might be able to guess what he becomes.

This review sees the joyous occasion where I have actually read the book which the film is based on. Generally, the right bits from the book have been cut and it keeps the irreverent and gutsy style. At some points the movie does fail to get across just why the making of the master scent is quite so important to Grenouille and the straight from the book narrative is lengthy and rather intrusive at times.

In his first major film role, Ben Whishaw is excellent as Grenouille as he portrays the special boy with just the right amount of naivety and social retardedness but with something flickering behind his gormless expression. Hoffman and Rickman bring a touch of class to proceedings and kudos has to also go to a hell of a lot of naked extras. Overall, Perfume has a great feel to it as it moves at a good pace through the life of Grenouille and through a beautifully recreated ye olde France. It really does pain me to compliment Tykwer as I absolutely hated Heaven, his previous attempt at a film.

It's Got: A wonderfully nuanced performance from Whishaw, an original and intriguing plot, an interesting setting

It Needs: Not to be confused with Perfume: The Story of an airhead model starring Carmen Electra, a few extras explanatory bits from the book

DVD Extras Very little on the Region One effort DVD Extras Rating: 1/10


Don’t be put off by the synopsis. A film about perfume and sniffing really can be a dark, intriguing thriller.