Ben Whishaw as Jean-Baptiste Grenouille
Sian Thomas as Madame Gaillard
Dustin Hoffman as Giuseppe Baldini
Dora Romano as Baldini’s Wife
Rachel Hurd-Wood as Laura
Alan Rickman as Richis
The Story of “Perfume”
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 147 Minutes
The following is from the DVD cover:
“With Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman headlining an all-star cast, ‘Perfume’ tells the story of a French peasant blessed and cursed with a sense of smell so keen it is his primary experience of the world. But when first aroused by a young woman’s scent, his desire to forever capture her essence quickly mutates into a dark and deadly erotic compulsion.
The terror and tension mount with each beautiful victim in this spellbinding tale that culminates in a finale as unexpected as it is unforgettable.”
“Perfume – The Story of a Murderer” is rated R for aberrant behavior involving nudity, violence, sexuality, and disturbing images.
“Perfume” is kind of like several movies rolled into one. It starts out pretty much like some of the worst horror movies I’ve ever seen. We see Jean-Baptiste Grenouille graphically born and then thrown on a pile of rotting fish with maggots and rats. Later we see the infant almost smothered to death by other orphans. It’s all quite disturbing and difficult to watch. The movie then seems to shift gears and turn into a period drama as Jean-Baptiste Grenouille learns the art of perfumery from Dustin Hoffman as Giuseppe Baldini. We see beautiful sets, elaborate period costumes, and very little horror. “Perfume” then shifts gears again when Jean-Baptiste begins killing women. It turns into a kind of “Silence of the Lambs” as one woman after another is murdered and shown nude. When Jean-Baptiste is finally caught (and that’s not spoiling anything), it turns into an extremely weird art house film as we’re treated to one of the most bizarre endings I’ve ever seen on film. While the rest of the movie had some degree of realism to it, the ending turns rather surreal. It was comically stupid and negated any credit the rest of the film built up with me.
On the bright side, “Perfume” is a beautifully shot film. The sets, costumes, and cinematography are all stunning. The acting is also superb. Ben Whishaw as Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is excellent. He manages to be sympathetic and utterly repugnant at the same time. Smaller roles by Dustin Hoffman as Giuseppe Baldini and Alan Rickman as Richis are also a lot of fun to watch. So if you can ignore the bizarre ending and the disturbing horror, it’s a pretty good movie.
I’d recommend “Perfume” to anyone who read the book, fans of Hoffman and Rickman, fans of European cinema, and anyone that likes movies about serial killers. These fans are the ones who will be most receptive to this movie.
There is only one bonus feature on this DVD. It’s the featurette “The Story of Perfume” and it runs 14 minutes long. The director and creators talk about the challenges of adapting the novel, scouting locations, casting, etc. You’ll see interviews with Hoffman and Rickman, behind the scenes footage, and more.