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Movie Review: Perfume

Alternate Title: The Smell of Paradise

Story: I love the smell of napalm in the morning is one of my favorite lines from any film - ever. Smell happens to be my strongest sense and living in NYC gives me the opportunity to use that sense often - sometimes unpleasantly.

If you like CSI, a hint of sensationalism, a bouquet of mystery and a whiff of history - this film is for you. I loved the book and I loved the movie. The brilliant German director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run and one of my all time favorites that no one saw, Heaven) brings a super novel Das Parfum (Perfume) by Patrick Suskind to the big screen with a screenplay by Andrew Birkin, Bernd Eichinger and Tom Tykwer.

The story surrounds an orphan, Jean-Baptiste Grenoille, born in the 1740's in the slums of Paris. He is blessed or cursed with a sensational ability to smell everything in the world. He does not judge good or bad odors - he can just smell everything. The film is magical and it is disturbing. Our main character is obsessed with learning the perfumery business and how to capture all of the smells he can sense - even the mythical smell of paradise. He is unstoppable, no matter the means, in his quest to fulfill this ambition.

The film is in four parts - each of them building to a climax that will send your senses through the roof. The visuals are extraordinary. The film is about obsession (conveniently the name of a perfume), quest and smell.

This is the most expensive German film ever made and it is said that many other directors passed over the opportunity to bring it to the screen (Kubrick, Scorsese, Milos Froman and Ridley Scott). They all thought it could not be done.Well, it can be done - with aplomb!

If you would like to get a sense of what 18th century Paris and its environs might have been like this film will take you back in time - with gusto.

Acting: Ben Whishaw as Jean-Baptiste Grenoille is sensational. He captures the feral, one-dimensional, obsessive qualities with perfection. There is a fine supporting cast including: Dustin Hoffman, Alan Rickman, Rachel Hurd-Wood and John Hurt as the narrator. Oh yes - there is a narrator, but it worked just fine here.

Predilection: I loved the book and I love Tom Twyker's work.

Critters: A dog, a cat and livestock.

Soundtrack: Renaissance man, Tom Twyker wrote the music as well.

Visual Art: I an describe the visuals as magical.

Theater Audience: A few unsmeely souls.

Weather: The weather was fine in mid 18th century Paris.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 3

Squirm Scale: There might be some squirmy visuals to some people - not me.

Drift Factor: Not for a second.

Predictability Level: I read the book.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: I think some technical aspect of the film or best adaptation form another source might be appropriate.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure.

Length: A bit long at two hours and 25 minutes.

LOBO HOWLS: 8