Faithful, opulent and visceral adaptation of Patrick Süskind's bestselling tale of an obsessive parfumier on a murderous quest in 18th-century France. Directed by Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run).
Screened as part of NZIFF 2007
The book sold 15 million copies when it was published in 1985, but until now, author Patrick Süskind has steadfastly refused to allow an adaptation. His compelling tale of an 18th-century serial killer whose olfactory obsession drives him to commit atrocious crimes was the perfect metaphor for diabolical 80s decadence and gripped the popular imagination like a vice. Hero Grenouille’s life is, from the outset, one of sensual assault and deprivation. Born under a table in the stinking fish markets of Paris, and mis-educated in a toxic tannery, he grows up to be an insignificant man with no scent of his own, whose singular talent is a virtuoso nose. So powerful is Grenouille’s sense of smell that it obliterates all normal human emotions such as love, hate and compassion. Naturally, he becomes a parfumier, whose one consuming desire is to recreate the aroma of pure, intoxicating, virginal love. From the opening shots of an 18th-century Paris writhing and steaming with rot, director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) builds an opulent and visceral epic that resolutely silences those who might have thought – understandably – that Perfume was impossible to film.
“This is a dark, dark, dark film, focused on an obsession so complete and lonely it shuts out all other human experience. There is nothing fun about the story, except the way it ventures so fearlessly down one limited, terrifying, seductive dead end, and finds there a solution both sublime and horrifying. It took imagination to tell it, courage to film it, thought to act it, and from the audience it requires a brave curiosity about the peculiarity of obsession.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times