Every once in a rare while, a movie is released in Europe before North America. In this case, I have been afforded a rare opportunity to save friends and family from gouging out their eyeballs should they make the mistake of seeing "Perfume: A history of a murderer."
It's by the same guy who did "Run Lola Run" so I had high hopes.
Well, I see that the film is scheduled for a December 27 release in North America, which would seem to indicate that they are planning on duping people into believing it's a "prestige" picture. I've also read snotty commentaries that seem to hint that the "climactic" (pun-intended) final scene (which features levels of nudity that, as that guy in "Spinal Tap" might have said, have been turned up to eleven) scared off prudish American distributors.
Don't believe it. "Perfume" stinks. It was based on a book that I understand was supposed to be quite good but the movie is unforgivably dull. It tells, for no reason that I can discern, the story of Jean Baptiste Grenouille (get it? Grenouille! He's French you know) who was born in 18th century Paris with a remarkable sense of smell and very poor social skills. He becomes a perfumer, in order to learn how to capture scent. He also becomes a serial killer of beautiful women for related reasons that I won't bother going into.
Highlights include Dustin Hoffman as Grenouille's mentor. I'm sure that, as I write this, Dustin is looking into faking his own death and assuming a new identity before his excrebable Italian accent makes him an object of scorn Stateside (why, by the way, is it ok for everyone else to have or fake a British accent in order to convey their Frenchness, but Hoffman had to fake Italian?) Also, Rachel Hurd-Wood, as the object of Grenouille's obsession, set new standards in the realm of facial control: Poor Alan Rickman, playing her Dad, tells her that the mysterious killer is after her: no reaction. Dad tells her he's effetively sold her into marriage to a near-stranger: no reaction. Our boy Grenouille kills her in the end, but damned if I can figure out how anyone could tell. Apparently no one told her that acting requires, in addition to dressing up in pretty costumes and learning your lines, some semblance of, you know, acting.
Anyway, I started checking my watch roughly ten minutes into this turkey, and continued to do so at intervals of five minutes. How the director managed to make a movie about a serial killer sprinkled with magic realism and lots of nudity so excruciatingly dull is beyond me: It's a testament to some kind of otherworldly badness that only happens when the stars are aligned just so. And when Dustin Hoffman is pretending to be Italian.