74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2012
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
I first saw "Perfect Sense" at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, and I can honestly say that it was one of the most visceral movie-going experiences of my life. I have never walked out of a theater so happy to be alive- in a good way! Ever since then, I've been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to see it again. Unfortunately, the film didn't receive much of a theatrical release in the US, so I look forward to introducing it to my friends and fellow film lovers once it's released on Blu-ray.
To be fair, I can understand why "Perfect Sense" might not have got the release it deserved- it's a hard film to categorize. The film focuses on two residents of Glasgow; a chef, Michael (Ewan McGregor, "Trainspotting") and an epidemiologist, Susan (Eva Green, "Casino Royale"), as they meet & begin to fall in love- meanwhile, an unexplained illness begins to cause humans across the globe to lose their senses one-by-one. In the beginning, it's just a few people losing their ability to smell, but things escalate quite rapidly from there. While this might sound hokey (and usually is, on an indie budget), director David Mackenzie and his team succeed in evoking an effective & terrifying global disaster from a local perspective, and the film does enough to suggest plausible causes for its illness while keeping it ambiguous enough to allow the larger metaphor to shine through.
The effect of the disease is made even more immediate thanks to an interesting side effect: prior to each new sense that is lost, victims are hit with a uncontrollable wave of emotions, varying from despair to hunger. This leads to terrifying scenes such as crowds of people devouring everything in sight like animals- edible or not! These montages are quite effective at putting the viewer in this situation- one can't help but imagine how you would feel if you were losing your connections to the world and had no control over it.
Adding to the cinematic power of the disease are the unique perspectives of our protagonists. As a chef, Michael finds his whole livelihood threatened with the loss of taste and smell, and struggles to adapt to a world with little needs beyond the base essentials of "flour and fat". Likewise, epidemiologist Susan finds herself on the front lines of the disease, desperately trying to understand an illness that is clearly beyond comprehension (and one could argue is punishment for humanity's sins).
With all the mysterious disease and global chaos, one might place "Perfect Sense" squarely in the burgeoning indie apocalypse/sci-fi genre (a la "Children of Men"). However, it's clear that "Perfect Sense"'s dark backdrop exists to illuminate the film's true focus: the romance between Michael & Susan. These two lovers are hardly an ideal pair- both come with their own set of very human flaws, sabotaging their efforts at intimacy and admittedly making it hard to relate to either of them at first. But for this reason, their relationship feels very real - their flaws reflect humanity's flaws. Both Ewan McGregor & Eva Green give excellent performances, anchoring the film with their natural characters and physical chemistry, even while serving as metaphors for the whole human race. As Michael & Susan find themselves drawn together, each new sense that is lost brings an examination of what it means to be human, and what is most important to us in this world. In the end, when even our bodies betray us, the only solace to be found is in the people that we love.
It would be criminal of me to spoil all of the film's pleasures, but I must mention several other aspects that made "Perfect Sense" such a powerful experience. First, the supporting cast is fantastic, and collectively they sell the reality of the situation. The film features several familiar faces, including Connie Nielsen ("Gladiator"), Ewen Bremner (Ewan McGregor's "Trainspotting" co-star, "Black Hawk Down"), and Stephen Dillane (currently starring as Stannis Baratheon in HBO's "Game of Thrones").
Finally, and perhaps most importantly of all, I must call attention to the incredible score by Max Richter ("Shutter Island"). His beautiful and heart-breaking music on piano & strings was truly captivating, and hooked me into this emotional journey from the very first frames. Indeed, the score elevates the entire film, adding layers of emotional depth & power to the larger ideas the film could only visually suggest for the sake of budget. I hope somehow there is a soundtrack release, because if you're like me, once this music gets in your head you may not want it to leave!
"Perfect Sense" was one of my favorite films of 2011, and I am delighted that it is finally being released in America. It's not for everyone, but it may just make you appreciate the world more, and realize that the things we should value most aren't possessions, but people. I hope you walk out of "Perfect Sense" as I did - thrilled and appreciative of the wonders of life, and filled with a desire to share them with your loved ones. As the narrator so eloquently states, "without love, there is nothing."
(Update 10/17/12: I just wanted to add that Max Richter's amazing soundtrack for "Perfect Sense" is now available to download in the U.S., via Amazon, iTunes, etc.)
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Susan is a scientist who lives in her own little world, her entire life is devoted to research, while everything else is neglected. For Susan, it was all work and no play, until she meets Michael. A talented scientist meets a talented chef, and the sizzling romance begins. As one would expect, Susan's life begins to change, but so does the entire world she lives in. The more steamy the relationship, the more a new epidemic spreads. As the couple fall in love and share their feelings, people all around lose their sensory perception. As the romance become intense, the mysterious disease becomes more disturbing. The outcome is global chaos as the mystery continues. "PERFECT SENSE" is brilliant, powerful, romantic, and chilling. The acting is superb, and the story is both touching and thrilling. Highly recommended for romantic suspense lovers and thriller loves.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format: Amazon Instant Video
The ineluctably disturbing aspects of "Perfect Sense" linger long after the movie ends. "Perfect Sense" is a poetic thriller that forces people to make sense of a world that is literally stripped of all its sensibilities. Slowly, one sense is lost, then another, across the world, and the viewer becomes directly involved in sly and clever ways. Will vision be lost next? And then what? How much more can possibly be lost? Ewan McGregor is satisfyingly atmospheric and Eva Green's dramatic starts and stops provide genuine intrigue. One can only hope that should the world end this way, and if we could possibly survive the perceptual annihilation, that we could once and for all come to our senses about how we treat each other and never lose sight of what really matters to us.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2012
"I think it's OK to panic now." A very serious disease strain has begun to cause havoc all over the world and it's called severe olfactory syndrome (SOS). It begins by smelling something that reminds you of someone you know who has died, then one by one you begin to lose your senses. During the outbreak chef Michael (McGregor) and scientist Susan (Green) begin to fall in love and their relationship is tested over and over as their senses begin to fail. Even the the plot may sound a little hokey this is actually a very good movie. At once the movie is both disturbing and sweet as well as erotic. The acting is fantastic as you believe that they are really losing their senses and you really begin to feel bad for them. To me this is a little scary because it makes me wonder if this could actually happen (from some chemical) and how I would act. This movie will give you hope and break your heart at the same time. I recommend this but it is a movie that will leave you worn out and not really in the mood to do anything after. Overall, a very good movie that is both disturbing and wonderful. I give it a B+.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
Of all the movies that I have viewed this year, this one has to be up there with the best. The amazing direction of David Mackenzie, the lulling and mournful soundtrack by Max Richter and the photography by Giles Nuttgens (both beautiful and distressing combined) pull a metaphorical statement from beginning to end.
Michael (Ewan McGregor) is an executive chef who meets Susan (Eva Green), a saddened epidemiologist, after she returns home from examining a patient with a very disturbing affliction. Inexplicable, as he suddenly lost his sense of smell for no apparent reason. This continues on to several other people at first then runs amok.
These two begin an intimate relationship quite rapidly, as everything in this movie happens quickly and without warning with one exception: each person will fall into a severe emotional occurrence prior to losing their ability to smell.
Susan and her team give it the name 'Severe Olfactory Syndrome' (SOS, an interesting acronym) as it reaches epidemic proportions and spreads worldwide. There are no explanations given as there is no time, therefore one must think on their own of how, why or what is happening. The movie heavily affects your time in reacting. It causes suspenseful anxiety to build readily and rapidly as you are left questioning the reasons of how could this be?
The erotic relationship between Michael and Susan hardly gets a chance to develop, as the rapid-fire affliction follows into another sense (taste) and similarly eradicates it. Michael is 'affected' and this is devastating to his career as is Susan affected also. The couple is growing more and more dependent on each other as the happenings around them are mercurial and deconstructing.
The symptoms preceding the loss of the senses are bewildering, wonder-struck and deeply disturbing. People are losing control, panicking and literally start unstoppable eating of anything and everything (from lipstick to things you have got to see for yourself). The photography and camera angles get increasingly confusing and more disturbing while bringing this chaos to life; it is all out catastrophic. People are running wild, rioting in the streets as everything is unsafe and sickness is omnipresent. There is so much to this movie that I wouldn't want to go on with the plot any longer as I would hate to ruin anyone's response to this movie...and your reaction in itself is everything.
Running amid the course of the film are short plugged-in narratives that work well. They serve to make you think, as this is a frightening portrait of annihilation in a very different form.
When someone loses one of their senses, it is usually just that one and devastating enough alone. The ending of this movie presents a whole alternative view to this, as tomorrow is no guarantee and "gather ye rosebuds while ye may".
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
There doesn't seem to be any shortage of end of the world films these days. Add this Euro (Sweden, Denmark, Ireland, and Scotland) collaboration to the mix. Don't look for alien invaders from another galaxy or robotic killers or even interplanetary collisions however.
Set in Glasgow, scientists have discovered that a group of people are, for some unknown reason, losing their sense of smell. The disease, presumed to be viral, spreads quickly worldwide. What is even more unusual is that just before the ability to smell ceases, the victims go through a psychological change. In this case, uncontrollable grief along with incessant sobbing. Once that period ends the ability to smell goes as well.
Eva Green plays Susan, an epidemiologist who is working on the identification process. Her apartment overlooks the back door of an upscale restaurant where Michael (Ewan McGregor) is the chef. Both are coming off badly ended relationships, but of course manage to hook-up. What do you expect, they're both great looking. While their relationship becomes hotter, so does the virus. One by one, new psychological symptoms arrive with increasingly devastating effects. The movie is far from perfect as some of the scenes seem out of context. For example, even without a sense of taste, I doubt I'd want to be ingesting soap and shaving cream just for a few bathtub chuckles.
Although the movie has sadness about it and a bleak forecast, Susan and Michael's love story is both erotic and hopeful. Certainly a thinking person's sci-fi. Recommended.
The Blu ray disc has little to offer in terms of extras. The transfer has a 2.34:1 aspect ratio nearly the same as the original print and is of course 1080p. While the picture isn't reference quality it is likely close to the original. Several scenes appear to be stock newsreel footage in standard definition. I believe this was shot with digital cameras. Some scenes look a little dark but overall not a big deal. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. It is very good. There are no booming noises so expect a pretty quiet film. So quiet in fact, I had to play it at a much higher level than I usually do. The ambient noises (birds, kitchen workers, etc.) come across very cleanly.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant Video
I'm not sure if I've ever seen a movie that has so profoundly moved me. It was well acted, wonderfully written and directed, and astonishingly edited and shot.
The thing I don't like is how people are reacting to this movie and how the movie is being marketed (which might be connnected). It's not saying ANYTHING about the kind of feelings and emotions this movie brings up in such new and ingenious ways.
I hope this movie gets much, MUCH better marketing when it comes to the US.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
PERFECT SENSE begins as a pretensious ARTHOUSE film, with an overwhelming ambition to prove to its viewers just how sensitive, insightful and conceptual another apocalyptic contagious endemic can be. After the pretense of the arty, poetic narration, and the cinematography that offers a veneer of intellectual and emotional depth at every turn, one begins to lose themselves inside the love story, and the symbolic nature of the plot devices. After that tipping point is reached, the film grows on you quickly, as it infects the viewer with its symbolic deconstruction of the human condistion. In the beginning, you have two existencially remote people, Ewan McGregor- a gourmet chief, and Eva Green- a Biologist specialising in Epidemiology, both going thru life, afraid to connect to others too deeply, for fear of their own human deficits. Then, an unknown, bizarre epidemic grips the world. You experience great sadness, and then cant smell. You experience great fear, and cant taste, you experience great hatred, and cant hear, etc. This epidemic is transmitted thru emotional contagions, not germs or viruses. As the gourmet chief loses the basis of his art (taste and smell), and as the epidemiologist loses her ability to save humanity with her own art(biology), the two find they love each other. Less an apocalyptic thriller true to the genre type, and more a post-modern morality tale discriping how humanity breaks down emotional barriers to one another, PERFECT SENSE lets the viewer consider the ONE perfect sense that humanity will have to depend upon, if life is to go on...TOUCH. As the two lovers touch, at the end of the film, you realize that within the symbolism of the film, they have found the only PERFECT SENSE all humans have---the sense of LOVE, of TOUCH, of knowing someone is CLOSE TO YOU.
If you are one to collect european art films, or enjoyed movies like ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, you're sure to love this film. With the film's saturation of opulent cinematography, sensuous soundtrack, and poetic script, its easy to uncover a new level of meaning, every time you watch it. More so than almost any Scifi genre, this movie demands a suspension of disbelief, and a tacit acceptence of the poetic artifice behind the plot. What is the nature of the apocalypse? Hatred, rage, and fear as our senses shut down in the presence of death? Of course, no doubt. Or, in the final moments of humanity, is meaning to be found in facing the darkness of death, while bravely touching each other's soul with love, with joy, and forgiveness? THis is the great choice facing the film's characters, as it also faces all humanity. This embodies the very HEART, the actual PLOT of the movie. PERFECT SENSE treads new ground, not just in style but also in substance, something few films ever aspire to, let alone achieve.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2012
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
This is a apocalyptic movie about a strange virus that is destroying the senses of humans one by one. However, humans quickly adapt and move on with their everyday life.
Eva Green is absolutely fantastic (as a statistician working in an hospital) in her role like in all movies that she appeared (Cracks is my favorite for the moment). I wish she would appear in more movies.
While many people may not like the movie, from a scientific point it makes sense that a virus can and may be one day infect a particular cell population in the brain that is responsible for our senses.
We have officially five senses: Sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. It is quite amazing how the movie demonstrates the adaptability of humans. Once a sense disappears, after a few weeks of panic, people adapt and move on with their life. That is probably the best part of the movie, beside the love story between Eva Green and Ewan McGregor.
The movie is well done and while it is focusing on the two love birds, we get the message of adaptability.
Without being a spoiler, four of the senses disappear during the movie and the one not gone by the time the movie is over (touch) is the most intriguing of all. Once I got into the movie, I was expecting to see what would be the consequences of losing the touch feeling. We will never know since the movie doesn't tell us but we can guess many different scenarios.
Great movie, five stars all around for everything!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2012
A story about virus that takes away your senses seems a little corny perhaps but this film is anything but that. It has great performances from both leads and some great cinematography. I don't think the film had a big budget but you can't tell as they used their money very well to make a great atmospheric film. You can feel the depression in every frame as society tries to cope as they lose their senses one by one. The main love story between Eva Green and Ewen Mcgregor is well done and realistic. It's not the corny type love affair in some films. It feels real and natural and the two have great chemistry on screen. The ending may not please all but I thought it was a brilliant closing scene. I find myself thinking about the film far after I watched it which is quite rare for me. I recommend this to fans of either apocalyptic end of the world or romance dramas as it is equal parts both.