Perfume: the repeated story of a failed adaptation
21 years later,
the cinema version based on the best-seller is finally released, under the
direction of Tom Tykwer, who started
to get success after his superb piece “Run Lola Run” in 1998.
The story is well
known by many: we follow the biography of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw), a fishmonger’s bastard
with a superb talent: he has the best and most developed sense of smell in the
world, intoxicated by the sweet fragrance of young women that will turn him
into not only the best perfumer of all times, but also a serial killer.
Framed by 18th
century in France,
the atmosphere and photography of the film is totally captivating. The
spectator gets immersed in the din of Paris,
the sumptuous villas, the corners of the smaller towns… All the social strata accurately
represented in front of the eyes – or should we say the nose? – of Jean
acting skills are not bad, but the treatment of the character seems ridiculous
in some scenes. I remember, many years ago when reading voraciously the pages
of Süskind´s book, to feel pity for the main character, to support him until
the last and climatic episode of his life, and to develop a clear sympathy for
his weaknesses, although this would mean the killing of young women. But the
sad and famished Jean Baptiste does not have the same effect in the film.
Sometimes it just look like a parody of a little animal, a being just a little bit more humanized than
“Gollum/Smeagol” from Lord of the Rings, and even Tolkien´s character was able to create a closer relationship with
the spectator. The film results in being too long and I could not avoid some
yawning before the end of it.
A couple of
glorious contributions save most of the credit: one from Dustin Hoffman, superb in his role of Giuseppe Baldini, the old
master perfumer. The other, the long red hair of Rachel Hurd-Wood that brightens like fire in every second that this
English beauty appears on screen. A delightful vision all over the movie.
With great power
comes great responsibility. Grenouille did not control the power of his nose,
and Tykwer, the director, has neither succeeded in the great responsibility
over his shoulders to transmit the same energy than the book exhales. Twenty-one
years has been too long awaiting time for this result.