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International star Julie Delpy (Before Sunrise, TV s ER ) scores a personal triumph by writing, directing, producing, scoring and starring in the classic horror tale of a powerful woman driven insane by thwarted passion. The newly widowed Countess (Delpy) falls hard for a charming, handsome younger man (Daniel Bruhl of Inglorious Basterds, The Bourne Ultimatum) whose father (William Hurt of The Incredible Hulk, Into The Wild) thwarts their romance. Believing her age made her undesirable, the Countess becomes obsessed with the rejuvenating power of blood taken from virgins. Soon, she is bathing in it regularly, local young women are going missing, and someone is sent to investigate the terrifying rumors the very same young man who drove her to this madness.
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Top Customer Reviews
The film opens with voice over by István Thurzó (Daniel Brühl) who relates the story of his only love. We are privy to the strange behaviors of the young Erzsébet who had a sadistic streak and was at birth promised to be the bride of Ferenc Nádasdy (Charly Hübner). She became a beautiful woman and Erzsébet (Julie Delpy) married General Nádasdy, gave birth to children, and together they were the power couple of Hungary. When Nádasdy dies, Erzsébet meets and falls passionately in love with István Thurzó (Daniel Brühl), a many 19 years her junior, but Istvan's father György Thurzó (William Hurt) prevents Istvan from remaining with Erzsébet. Left alone Erzsébet remains a powerful warrior, dallies with the sadomasochistic Dominic Vizakna (Sebastian Blomberg), but fears her young lover will forget her if she ages. She discovers that the blood from virgins will restore her youth and thus begins the serial killings to support her vanity. As questions of debts owed to her by the King there is an investigation of her personal history led by György Thurzó and without proper trial she is condemned to house arrest in darkened sealed rooms in her own Csejte Castle where her fate is sealed.
The film is beautifully designed, costumed, photographed and scored, and Delpy manages to pace her story credibly and well. For this viewer there is an absence of gritty passion that would make the history more indelible: Delpy and the remainder of the cast fail to create fiery on-screen chemistry that would have brought a sense of stronger impetus to the heinous acts that occur. But as a piece of rarely known history it is a fascinating film about a strong woman of the past and the impact she had on her country ... and on legends! Grady Harp, November 11
From early childhood through marriage, and leading to the death of her husband, Erzebet (Julie Delpy) is painted with all the makings of a "typical" noblewoman with "typical" white-people-problems of the time. We see the potential for both compassion and cold sociopathy in the future of this powerful and highly intelligent woman.
In her late thirties Erzebet meets and fancies Istvan (Daniel Brühl), a young noble and the son of Count Gyorgy Thurzo (William Hurt) whose recent advances she denied. Young Istvan is quite sincerely taken with Erzebet, as is she with him. But she finds herself transfixed on his fine skin and, ill-comparably, her aging skin (as she is nearly twenty years his senior). Little did she know that Gyorgy would use her love for Istvan against her for years to come.
After promises to be together, Erzebet waits for Istvan. She becomes obsessed with "looking worn and old" and resigns herself to continuous fasting and prayer until Istvan answers her. Later, actions of self loathing, self mutilation, and bondage fuel her descent into madness. After some provocative suggestions from a vamp-like nobleman and a random household accident, she learns to find comfort in the rejuvenating properties of virgins' blood. Her young handmaid plays the scapegoat of this psychosis as she is periodically drained. As time passes, Erzebet's addiction to sanguineous cosmetics increases and so follows the body count with her state of mania.
The film is presented with a strong feministic tone in support of Erzebet's integrity and actions despite her psychosis, as if told by Erzebet as an autobiography. Delpy was fantastic. Much as with Anonymous, an admirable job was done with a limited (i.e., non-Blockbuster) budget. The cinematography and wardrobe were fantastic. The set design should be noted for effort, but it takes a big budget to properly emulate the grandeur of nobility in period films.
Lovers of this dark, murderous period piece should very much delight in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2007).