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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 133 | August 23 , 2009|


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Movie Review


Compiled by Tawsif Saleheen

PERFUME start as an enigmatic piece of work with visuals that hit you hard and a story line so macabre that it forces you to follow intently. Based on Patrick Suskind's novel, Perfume is the story of an 18th-century man who possesses almost a superhero's ability to parse out the subtlest of odors. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw) is orphaned at birth. He labors away at grim workhouses, and, even as a boy is regarded as peculiar, obsessed with all things olfactory. A stint working for a perfumer triggers his compulsion to capture human scent.

Grenouille becomes a serial killer in his attempt to isolate and bottle the scent of beautiful women. An ambitious period saga follows where Grenouille tries to bottle beauty, or even love in the form of its scent. What follows is an epic tale that is both gorgeous and repellant.

Perfume doesn't dwell much on Grenouille's parentage once his mother is disposed of, but it does show us something of the factors that may have contributed to his utter lack of regard for humanity as a whole. As such, it is just as relevant today, in an era of school shootings and suicide bombings, as it would have been in the years leading up to the French revolution, to examine the whys and wherefores of the myriad factors -- parentage, circumstance, abuse, neglect, and the curious nature of the child himself -- that combine in this fable to create a killer without conscience.

Ben Whishaw turns in a remarkable performance as Grenouille -- a role that requires him to reveal an extraordinarily complex character largely through body language and facial expression. Dustin Hoffman has a nice turn as Giuseppe Baldini, a once-great perfumer, now obsolete, who exploits Grenouille's talented nose to restore his shop to its previous prestige, and Alan Rickman gives his usual reliably strong performance as the Marquis who leads the charge to find the serial killer before his beautiful daughter Laura becomes the next victim.

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