The Perfumier 2022 Movie Review
Sunny (Emilia Schule) experiences happiness in the form of love for the first time when she moves in to be with her partner Juro (Robert Finster). Her otherwise normal life is in a constant state of discomfort as she cannot smell anything. Sunny’s dreams of fulfillment crumble before her eyes when I swear she ends his relationship to be with his wife and children. Devastated, Sunny’s only way out is now her job as a detective, and she becomes eerily attached to a multiple murder case involving young women.
Victims are found to have their sweat glands removed for pheromones. Evidence leads Rex (Anne Muller) to be the prime suspect. Sunny follows Rex every day hoping to find something incriminating and one day she finally hears her screaming from a house and calls for backup. Accompanied by no one but Juro, Sunny is restless. After smelling smoke coming from the house, Juro breaks in and finds Rex. Sunny follows him and finds the unique and incredibly dangerous perfume that perfumer Dorian (Ludwig Simon) has created. Unable to smell it, she ends up rubbing it on her arm and is met with a sudden passionate sexual advance from Juro that mystifies her and makes her feel hopeful at the same time. She keeps the perfume with herself, far from everyone’s knowledge.
Sunny learns that the perfume triggers insane sexual desire in the wearer and smells it, and uses it to manipulate Juro into accepting her. Her days are once again adorned with the passion and happiness induced by the strange perfume. However, upon learning that she is pregnant and realizing that she will not be able to smell her baby; Desperate, Sunny sets out to find Dorian. She is convinced that he will be able to help her regain her sense of smell.
Dorian and Sunny’s meeting once again sends him down the path of creating the perfume of love, as his first attempt was a failure. A sniff from Sunny convinces him that she possesses her most special ingredient, “the pearl,” as he calls it. In exchange for breaking free from her imprisonment, Dorian promises to help her regain her sense of smell. After several failed attempts; in a strange turn of events, he can once again smell things after surviving Dorian’s sudden attack. Dorian frees Rex from the psychiatric facility and they once again begin their journey to create the perfume of love.
All is not going well in Sunny’s dream life, as she, along with Juro, begins to experience the side effects of the lust perfume and clearly sees that he is unhappy. Her obsession with Dorian leads her to investigate her past and a meeting with her father reveals that he was a strange and loveless boy who was repulsive by her stench. It is also revealed that Dorian and Rex’s search for the scent of love began when they were children and continues to this day. When Sunny is attacked by Rex, she uses the highly coveted perfume of lust to fend her off. Covered in the dangerous substance, Rex breaks out of her and begins to engage in vicious sexual activities with various people who, under the influence of her perfume, cannibalize her, leaving only the titanium plate that was inside her head.
Starting with a shot that is a tribute to “Ofelia”; Willbrandt promises a film that will be visually stunning and delivers the same, for the most part. The dark and haunting cinematography creates a world that feels like a fever dream and the creepy quotient is raised by the consistently jaw-dropping soundtrack. The sloppy storytelling, however; does not do justice to the magnificent premise with which it was provided. The vision of the film, and that of the creator, remains unclear. The plot seems to have set several goals and does a listless job of reaching some of them while completely abandoning others.
The number of quirks and characters thrown aimlessly for the sake of the main plot is too remarkable to be justifiable. The randomness of the incidents and coincidences would have been somewhat understandable if it had been set in a much stranger, non-contemporary world. But in a story like this, which takes place in the world as we know it; the justification required is much higher than that issued in the film. One of the biggest question marks in the film is Rex. What was the evidence against him? What motivated her to be Dorian’s accomplice? She may just be there to add fantasy, but even that requires some sanity.
The gestures of the main characters and the crazy struggles of the psyche are very interesting to follow. But explorations of such nuances were unsatisfactory and underperformed. The performances, which are reasonably good, certainly add to the watchability of the film. Nevertheless; is the least captivating adaptation of the book so far.
Seeing that Juro is beyond miserable in the artificially induced and dysfunctional relationship, Sunny decides to end it and release him. She also manages to overcome and rise above the power of the lustful perfume. However, as she still can’t let go of her dream; Dorian approaches her once more, and although he begins to give in to her fatal and intoxicating allure at first, he quickly breaks free of her. She asks how she is going to create the perfume of love if she has never felt love. Puzzled and threatened by that question, Dorian seeks the help of another perfumer, Moritz de Vries, who turns out to have created a device that extracts unadulterated pheromones without surgical intrusion. When asked by Dorian if he would be able to create the perfume of love if he has never felt love; Moritz ridicules the world’s endless obsession with love and leaves.
Still in pursuit; Dorian kidnaps Sunny’s neighbor and his girlfriend, hoping that she will show up to save them and her wish will come true. Dorian enlightens Sunny about her great understanding of the “pearl”. They tell her that the pearl is not her, as stated above, but her baby. He wants to recreate the smell of a newborn as it is the closest thing to love that she can imagine. Her attempts to create a strange connection with her come to an end when a toxic substance that Sunny carries with her takes away her sense of smell. Even imprisoned; Dorian in his unstable state continues to dream of breaking free and creating his masterpiece. Sunny is finally free of her toxic instincts and has given birth to a beautiful baby with whom she wants to share a healthy and fearless life.
Dorian’s obsession with love has been reflected in Sunny’s desperation for love. Both share a loveless childhood. While one was never adored because of a stench that wasn’t her fault, another was abandoned and neglected by her parents. It’s pretty obvious that Dorian would associate love with the smell of a newborn. As a newborn, he was rejected and the love he deserved but didn’t receive is exactly the kind of love he continues to seek. The fact that Sunny refers to the unborn child as the pearl is perhaps a metaphorical gesture of comparing her and her fetus to an oyster that carries a pearl within itself. Without the pearl, the oyster is worth little, and that’s exactly how Dorian feels about Sunny.