What I liked about this film Perfume, first and foremost is that it has a good and gripping story. The best example of this is the opening few minutes when the story reaches out and grips you by the throat. I also liked the way it made me think more about the often under-appreciated but potentially profound human sense of smell. The narrative has a traditional 18th/19th century structure, devoid of counterpoint sub-plots and inter-ontological references. Its just a single good story well told. I haven’t read Suskind’s book so I don’t know how true it is to the original novel. Towards the end of the film it embraces the magical realism reminiscent of films such as Like Water For Chocolate.
One of my top ten films of all time, In The Mood For Love is a sensual work directed by Hong Kong film director Wong-Kar-wai, captures and distills the languid quality of elegant beauty. This quality is found throughout the film but two scenes that capture it well are when Maggie Cheung’s character goes to the street to get her dinner (which you can see in the trailer above) and the tentative movement of hands between the two lovers in the taxi. But my favorite scene from the film, which appeals more to the senses than the intellect, is a side-shot taken as rain moves across the stones on a street. Half of the screen is in the rain and the other half is just ahead so we witness the rain’s movement across the dry stones. It has been many years since I first saw that shot and it has always stuck in my mind, perhaps it is because it makes the ordinary extra-ordinary – something that Wong-Kar-wai does time and time again. This perception of the languid tone of this film is supported by the film’s original Chinese title; “Our Glorious Years Have Passed Like Flowers.” This film is the second of a trilogy, the first of which is Days of Being Wild and the third; 2046. The film is set in Hong Kong in 1962. Chow Mo-Wan (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) and Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung Man-yuk) each rent an apartment in the same building on the same day. They are both married but their relationships with their respective spouses are strained. They each confess their suspicions that there spouses are cheating on them. The film then proceeds with the two, through tentative interactions, trying to avoid the same betrayals perpetuated by their spouses. Their reticence holds and so the film has this star-crossed and suspended-potential quality throughout.