Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Perfect Sense

By s. Wednesday, January 4, 2012 , , , , , , , ,
82/100 (92 min, 2011)
Plot: A chef and a scientist fall in love as an epidemic begins to rob people of their sensory perceptions.
Director: David Mackenzie
Writer: Kim Fupz Aakeson
Stars: Eva Green, Ewan McGregor and Connie Nielsen

"And smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry
And all you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be"
- Pink Floyd, Breathe
Love in the time of Apocalypse

"Perfect Sense" is one of those movies that are extremely difficult to shake off. Its premise, the mysterious virus that causes everyone to loose their senses, one by one, although hiding underneath the love story which is the main focus of the movie, is horrifying. The thought of how awful the end of the world would be in this form is truly haunting. By the end of the film, although it has a beautiful ending, there is only darkness and fear left.

The story follows two people - the scientist Susan who while being friendly and liked by her co-workers is rather distant and seems not to chase love and Michael, who unlike Eva Green's character chases disposable love and comes off as cold and quite ignorant. These two will meet and - although due to the practicality of their relationship and the short time of their affair it is difficult to talk about real love - they will create a bond, that in the face of the end, will be something that matters the most to them.
The feelings between these two were born as suddenly as the virus hit people around them. I liked how in this movie the fact that both characters smoke was the form of meet cute - he asked her for a cigarette, when she was smoking in the window. As a smoker, I am really tired of scenes in films that make it look as if smoking was worse than slaughtering puppies. Anyways, they meet, then they meet again. They make love, they connect. As they grow closer to each other, the disease is getting to more and more people.

First sense that is lost is the smell. When I was watching the movie, I thought of the situation presented in film and decided that if I lost senses I'd prefer for it to happen in this order - smell, taste, hearing, sight, touch. It's actually how it happens in the movie and before the inevitable loss of each of the senses, there is a sudden rush of emotions - intense passion, depression, euphoria, anger. Much like the path to accepting death, all the possible emotions reach their maximum before one of the senses ceases to exist - particularly impressive in the scene where Susan, just before losing the sense of taste, is so passionately hungry she eats flowers.
As much as the loss of smell is something that would probably be easiest to live with, the loss of taste is much more apparent - there is a quirky scene in the movie where the protagonists sit in the bath tub and bite bar of soap - simply because at that point, they have no taste of it. The humanity quickly adjusts and creates the kind of food you have to eat to stay alive, but the restaurants transform - becoming something almost like nostalgia shops, where people go, simply to remember how it used to feel.

Then anger comes and apologies can't be heard - people loose their hearing. Now they are alone, in the silence. But their last shot at redemption comes with the urge of happiness and the desire to run to the person you love the most - just before they lose their sight.
As much as the ending of the movie is stunning and filled with emotions, the inevitable which must have happened after the end of the movie haunts you - you are deaf, blind, able to scream but with no one to hear you. And at that point you know, that even if you are hugging someone or holding another person's hand you will lose that sensation soon, being left completely alone, caged with your thoughts and fears, until you die either of starvation or by falling or by being hit by a car driven but someone as blind and deaf as you.

It's interesting how the loss of senses almost seems like a cruel punishment - Susan and Michael seem rather detached, especially him. As a chef he used the sense of taste and smell, as a guy who enjoys one night stand he used the sense of touch. But he never listened - he wasn't interested in the girl lying next to him, he didn't even want to look at her. Susan on the other hand had life so focused she didn't have time to appreciate everything fully. And then, when they finally meet seemingly right person, all starts to collapse.

The film is far from flawless, but it is very memorable - it has many beautiful shots, many of which portray the feel of impending doom and the passion between two lovers. The character in the centre of the film is Susan, who as a scientist must deal with the fact she is unable to find the cure or even understand the disease. Susan is all alone, whether she is with her sister or even with Michael. I don't think she was ever able to completely give herself to another person and underneath her skin she knew Michael is not the person to be with. Her solitude is shown beautifully where she is sitting alone in the car and suddenly there is a horse, running around in the middle of the street - complete chaos around her, but she is safe, even if with her sadness.

Max Richter's music adds so much to the movie - beautiful violins and cellos accompany the characters's sadness, desire, longing, anxiety. Eva Green delivers strong performance that easily overshadows McGregor. But the idea the whole movie is centred around is definetly its best aspect. It should be noted though, that it is first time we see Spud and Renton on screen since "Trainspotting", as Ewan Bremmer is also in the movie.
"Perfect Sense" is the most harrowing portrait of apocalypse of any end of the world movie - in Melancholia the world just ended, like that, out of the - literally - blue. Here, the world ends slowly and individually, for everyone. If it was Michael Bay's movie, we would all got hit by a massive alien ship or a meteor, but here you die slowly - sense by sense and not even love can help you greater than merely bring small consolation of fleeting companionship.


  1. I need to see this film, the review is great so now I'm pretty sure I'm going to like it. Plus, every movie that has Eva Green in is worth watching.

  2. I loved, loved, LOVED, this movie. It really took me by surprise. I only went into it because it was filmed in my home town of Glasgow but I knew nothing beforehand. It just blew me away and deliver the most perfect and haunting ending I've seen for a while. Great write-up Sati.

    1. Oh Glasgow looked beautiful in the movie! The ending was amazing indeed, I really need to include it in Scene of the Week sometime. Thank you!

  3. What the f--k? You didn't even mention Stephen Dillane in this review! I'm calling shenanigans.

    But on a less idiotic note, I really enjoyed this review. You actually wrote thoughtfully about the film. I was tempted to just smash my hairy fists into the keyboard and yell BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOBBBBBBBBBBBBSSSSSSSSSSS the entire time.

    Phew. Bullet dodged, right?

    I mean, I wouldn't want to embarrass myself.

    Oh, and my favorite line: "As a smoker, I am really tired of scenes in films that make it look as if smoking was worse than slaughtering puppies." Hahaha...smokers.

    1. You know what probably happened? I saw it before I started perving :P Same as with Harris and a dozen of his movies which now I have to reewatch cause I plan on making a post where I write about every single one of his performances to get you people to watch his movies because this is an outrage!