Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Based on German writer Patrick Süskind’s 1985 novel, Perfume: the Story of a Murderer is the tale of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. Grenouille (Ben Whishaw) is born on the streets of 18th century Paris and grows up in an orphanage. He is an oddity because while his sense of smell is very acute, he has no natural scent of his own.

Smell becomes the film’s under-riding metaphor as Grenouille struggles to find his vocation. After he becomes the apprentice of perfumer Giuseppe Baldini (Dustin Hoffman), he learns that his goal in life is to preserve the scent of beauty–the essence and soul of beautiful women. In this way he becomes of a serial killer.

Grenouille kills women to capture their scent for the best perfume in the world, but is eventually caught and condemned to die by death on a cross. And though he finds power in beauty, his true longing is to be truly loved; he discovers that this is impossible for him and he sacrifices himself. The film confronts the audience with the question: is Grenouille supposed to represent Christ or the anti-Christ? In this fable the ambiguity will stay with you for days. Perfume is probably one of the most provocative, yet beautiful films of 2007.

greg p. veltman

rotten tomatoes


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