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"PERFUME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER"
(2006) (Ben Whishaw, Dustin Hoffman) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild Heavy Extreme Heavy Heavy
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Heavy None Minor
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme None Moderate Moderate Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Possessing an extraordinary sense of smell, an 18th century young man goes on a murder spree as he tries to extract and capture the perfect scent from his victims.
PLOT:
It's mid-18th century France and Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (BEN WHISHAW) is a young man with an extraordinary sense of smell. Having grown up in an orphanage and then sold to work in a tannery, Jean-Baptiste arrives in Paris where he's overcome by the various odors and scents, the most alluring coming from a young woman whom he follows home. Accidentally smothering her, he then inhales the aroma of her femininity, forever locking that smell in his brain. When he later delivers tannery materials to once-successful Italian perfumier Giuseppe Baldini (DUSTIN HOFFMAN), Jean-Baptiste finds his calling and persuades the former master to hire him as an apprentice.

After learning the art of distilling and bottling various scents from him, Jean-Baptiste sets out for Grasse to work for Mme. Arnulfi (CORINNA HARFOUCH), creating perfume by extracting the smell of flowers through a process known as enfleurage. With the aroma of his first victim still haunting him, Jean-Baptiste desires to use the same process to capture the essence of what he believes is the perfect scent, that of women.

Accordingly, he becomes a serial murderer to perfect his process, something that doesn't sit well with widowed merchant Antoine Richis (ALAN RICKMAN) who's quite protective of his alluring, young adult daughter Laura (RACHEL HURD-WOOD) and tries to keep her away from the disturbed and obsessed young man.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Older teens might be interested in it, as might those who are fans of anyone in the cast.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For aberrant behavior involving nudity, violence, sexuality, and disturbing images.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • BEN WHISHAW plays a disturbed young man whose highly tuned sense of smell has turned him into a serial killer as he tries to extract the perfect scent from his victims.
  • DUSTIN HOFFMAN plays a once successful Italian perfumier who takes Jean-Baptiste under his wing as an apprentice and teaches him the tricks of the trade.
  • RACHEL HURD-WOOD plays a young woman whose beauty is far too alluring for Jean-Baptiste to ignore, meaning she's in danger of becoming his next victim.
  • ALAN RICKMAN plays her protective and widowed merchant father who doesn't want that to happen and tries to keep her out of harm's way.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the content found in this R-rated drama. Very little profanity and only a handful of colorful phrases are present, as is some sexually related, but non-explicit dialogue. A large-scale public orgy is seen (with lots of nudity and some movement), while other sexual encounters are present. Nudity is seen in several scenes (including that of both alive and dead women), while various women sport varying amounts of cleavage (sometimes a lot).

    Violence consists of various murders by various means (while off-screen killings result in the view of dead bodies in various scenes) as well as people striking others. Some of that has bloody results, while scenes featuring maggots, dead animals and more are similarly bloody and/or gory.

    Those scenes and other perilous moments may be unsettling to viewers, while the perpetrators of such violence and other behavior have bad attitudes. Some brief drinking is present, as are some tense family scenes including a father finding his adult daughter murdered.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, there are some flashes of lightning early in the film.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there's a spin-around camera shot of Baldini experiencing the perfume Jean-Baptiste has created.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Baldini has some wine.
  • Baldini has wine in another scene.
  • Antoine has a champagne toast with others.
  • Antoine has wine in front of him with dinner.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • From time to time, we see dead nude bodies, but beyond being dead, they're not bloody or discolored.
  • We see Jean-Baptiste, shirtless and chained, being pulled out of a prison cell (he has dried cuts and blood on his skin).
  • We see Jean-Baptiste's mother, a fish market worker, pregnant with him when she goes into labor. She squats and then sits down in the filth at her fish stand, delivers him after brief straining (we hear the squishy sound), cuts the umbilical cord with her fish knife and then shoves the bloody newborn away with her foot and then goes back to work (we hear that she's had many stillborn babies in the past). We then see the bloody newborn lying in the filth, seemingly going to die, but the narrator comments on his desire to live.
  • We see a quickly cut montage of work in the fish market, where fish and other animals are gutted, dogs pull at and eat raw meat, maggots are in raw meat, etc. all with bloody/gory results. During this, we see a guy vomit from the sight and/or smell.
  • Young Jean-Baptiste picks up a dead rat, smells it, and we see an internal view of maggots busy at work inside the carcass.
  • Jean-Baptiste's boss at the tannery has all sorts of bad lesions on his face.
  • Two men rob an older woman, slitting her throat in the process, killing her. We see the motion but not the impact, although we then see her lying on the street with a bloody neck.
  • We see welts on Jean-Baptiste's skin and there's talk that he's going to die, but he's better not much longer after that.
  • A mob beats up an innocent man they believe to be the killer (with slightly bloody results).
  • Jean-Baptiste has large burn scars on his neck from some previous injury.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • When it's announced that Jean-Baptiste is to be strung up and then beat 12 times with an iron rod, a mob cheers the news.
  • We see Jean-Baptiste's mother, a fish market worker, pregnant with him when she goes into labor. She squats and then sits down in the filth at her fish stand, delivers him after brief straining (we hear the squishy sound), cuts the umbilical cord with her fish knife and then shoves the bloody newborn away with her foot and then goes back to work (we hear that she's had many stillborn babies in the past). We then see the bloody newborn lying in the filth, seemingly going to die, but the narrator comments on his desire to live.
  • We see that the infant Jean-Baptiste is taken to a filthy and overcrowded orphanage where an adult worker is mean to one boy, and some young kids wonder if the infant is dead. One boy goes to poke him to check, but Jean-Baptiste grabs and smells the boy's finger, unnerving him. That boy and others then decide to smother the baby, but his cries alert the woman who runs the place. She then repeatedly whacks those kids with some sort of rod.
  • Jean-Baptiste avoids an apple thrown at his head (from behind by another boy in the orphanage).
  • When he's 13, the woman who runs the orphanage sells Jean-Baptiste to a mean man who runs a tannery.
  • Two men rob an older woman, slitting her throat in the process, killing her.
  • Jean-Baptiste accidentally smothers a woman, and bedeviled by her scent, later becomes a serial murderer while trying to collect the essence of his victims' smell.
  • Jean-Baptiste's tannery boss repeatedly whacks him with a rod or something similar for having wandered off in the city.
  • Jean-Baptiste's female boss slaps a male subordinate on the head for doing something wrong, while the male boss slaps Jean-Baptiste on the back of the head to make him go check on something.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" and "Blood/Gore" may be unsettling or suspenseful to younger viewers and/or those with low tolerance levels for such material.
  • We see Jean-Baptiste's mother, a fish market worker, pregnant with him when she goes into labor. She squats and then sits down in the filth at her fish stand, delivers him after brief straining (we hear the squishy sound), cuts the umbilical cord with her fish knife and then shoves the bloody newborn away with her foot and then goes back to work (we hear that she's had many stillborn babies in the past). We then see the bloody newborn lying in the filth, seemingly going to die, but the narrator comments on his desire to live.
  • Jean-Baptiste's mother is hanged for abandoning her baby (we see the noose around the neck, but not the actual impact).
  • Jean-Baptiste freaks out a young woman by following her into a desolate area at night, smelling her hands, and then slowly keeping after her, eventually showing up directly behind her as she sits and peels some fruit. She panics and starts to scream, but he grabs and puts his hand over her mouth to stifle her sounds so that a couple doesn't hear her. He continues this until he realizes he's accidentally smothered her. Rather than show fright, remorse or any such negative emotion, he scrambles to breathe in as much of her scent as possible. With her body now on the ground, he rips open her dress to smell her up close (we see multiple views of her bare breasts). He then continues downward with the tearing, smelling along her thigh and presumably her crotch, but we don't see the latter.
  • A woman up in a loft hears someone down below her. A ladder comes up to the loft, and she anxiously waits as we then see Jean-Baptiste appear coming up the ladder.
  • We see a dead woman's fully nude body floating in a large, transparent vat (her eyes are open and we see her bare breasts and side of bare butt -- Jean-Baptiste killed her, but we didn't see the act).
  • Laura and others participate in a game of hide and seek at night in an estate's maze. She does a good job hiding, but then partially sees a figure in the shadows (Jean-Baptiste) that then comes toward her. He then chases after her and she's scared, but she runs into her suitor and thinks she's safe. Jean-Baptiste then throws a stone or something similar to break a lamp above them.
  • Jean-Baptiste's boss nearly discovers that he has a dead woman's body in their large distillery vat.
  • Upset upon seeing Laura freely dancing in public (worried since he knows the killer is still on the loose when everyone else thinks he's been caught), Antoine slaps her face, prompting her to run off. She then ends up going through a desolate part of town, including a narrow and dimly lit passageway. As she slowly proceeds, we see that Jean-Baptiste is waiting, with his small club, just around the corner, but Antoine catches Laura just in time and they leave together.
  • We see Jean-Baptiste enter Laura's bedroom at night, but it appears that's just a nightmare on Antoine's part. He then races to her room to check and finds the previously locked window open, with Laura saying she didn't do it.
  • Jean-Baptiste's male boss finds a dog digging in the earth and pulling up chopped off human hair.
  • We see Jean-Baptiste prepping his fat and fabric combination for Laura.
  • Jean-Baptiste enters the remote chateau where Antoine has taken Laura and locked away for the night in a bedroom. Jean-Baptiste passes by the sleeping dog and family that runs the place, goes into Antoine's bedroom to take the key, and then enters Laura's bedroom. He raises his small club to strike her, but she then rolls over (still asleep) to face him, and he stops.
  • We see Jean-Baptiste's head underwater as he's been dunked to make him talk (he's bound and hanging by his feet). When he doesn't give Antoine a satisfactory answer, Jean-Baptiste is dunked again, with bubbles coming up before he's raised again.
  • Antoine approaches Jean-Baptiste with his sword drawn, but he falls under the spell of Jean-Baptiste's perfume.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Various guards carry muskets.
  • We see a montage of people shooting others with muskets upon thinking they're the killer (some in reactionary surprise).
  • Jean-Baptiste raises his small club to strike Laura, but she then rolls over (still asleep) to face him, and he stops.
  • Soldiers surround Antoine with guns drawn, with one firing his rifle (the shot hits a tree near him).
  • Antoine approaches Jean-Baptiste with his sword drawn, but he also falls under the spell of Jean-Baptiste's perfume.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Get your ass over here," "Bellissimo," "Mama mia," "Numbskull," "Idiot," "Holy mother, what's that?" "Are you mad?" "Cretin," "Useless little sewer rat," "A damned heretic" and "To hell with it."
  • It's possibly the film could inspire some troubled kids to try to do something similar (in murdering women for their scent or simply smelling people in a creepy fashion).
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A heavy amount of ominous and suspenseful music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 2 hells, 1 ass, and 1 use of "Dear God."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We see a newborn male infant's penis.
  • We see 13-year-old Jean-Baptiste and others working at the tannery while shirtless.
  • The camera focuses on a young woman's cleavage, representing where Jean-Baptiste is collecting a scent from afar. We then see another view of her cleavage and then one in extreme close-up.
  • Jean-Baptiste freaks out a young woman by following her into a desolate area at night, smelling her hands, and then slowly keeping after her, eventually showing up directly behind her as she sits and peels some fruit. She panics and starts to scream, but he grabs and puts his hand over her mouth to stifle her sounds so that a couple doesn't hear her. He continues this until he realizes he's accidentally smothered her. Rather than show fright, remorse or any such negative emotion, he scrambles to breathe in as much of her scent as possible. With her body now on the ground, he rips open her dress to smell her up close (we see multiple views of her bare breasts). He then continues downward with the tearing, smelling along her thigh and presumably her crotch, but we don't see the latter.
  • Baldini's wife and/or assistant shows cleavage.
  • We see miscellaneous cleavage (varying amounts) throughout the film.
  • We see Jean-Baptiste's dream of smelling the first dead girl, which includes views of her bare breasts.
  • Jean-Baptiste comes out of a cave into the rain at night, and appears to be nude (or at least shirtless), but we don't see anything explicit (only from the chest up).
  • We see cleavage (revealing what Jean-Baptiste is smelling from a remote distance), and then a woman out of a shower (we see her bare foot and partial bare back, but nothing else).
  • Laura shows varying amounts of cleavage throughout the film.
  • A young man and woman are close (and clothed) in a barn and he caresses some part of her torso, but she tells him she's not in the mood. She then climbs into a loft, he partially ascends the ladder and she playfully pushes it back, causing him to fall off and land in some hay (only his ego is hurt).
  • We see a dead woman's fully nude body floating in a large, transparent vat (her eyes are open and we see her bare breasts and side of bare butt -- Jean-Baptiste killed her, but we didn't see the act).
  • When a woman asks where Jean-Baptiste's female boss is, he sniffs the air, and we then see a flash image of her having sex with his male boss (a brief head and shoulders view with related sounds and suggested movement).
  • Jean-Baptiste goes to a prostitute, asks how much (to use her for his scent experiment) and she says it depends on what he wants (thinking sex). We then see her sitting nude before him (bare breasts, but her legs are crossed). He then has her lie down (bare breasts, side of bare butt) and applies animal fat to her body (prompting her to ask, "You're getting some bang out of this, aren't you?"). When she spots a small scythe, she's had enough and tries to leave, but he hits and kills her. We then see him covering her in animal fat and then wrapping her in some sort of fabric. We see one bare butt cheek during that, and then both when he unwraps her, and then uses the scythe to scrape off the fat (that he'll then distill to try to get her scent).
  • It's implied that Jean-Baptiste has killed two twins, and we then see him doing the same fat and fabric wrapping as above (we partially see one's bare breast through the material). We then see him scraping the fat off the body, including around a fully seen bare breast.
  • From a distance, we see two twins' dead bodies floating in some water (we see one's bare butt).
  • Antoine states that of the killer's victims, all but the prostitute went to their graves with their virginity intact (saying the mortician checked them).
  • We hear the thump of Jean-Baptiste killing another young woman, and then see him snatching another. We then see views of bystanders finding the victims' nude bodies (we see bare breasts and sides of bare butts).
  • Antoine says it's not the victim's virginity that the killer wants, but instead their beauty.
  • More killings are implied and we see quick views of more nude bodies (bare breasts and butts).
  • We see a clothed but dead nun being pulled up some stone steps, and then later see her fully nude body lying in the church (bare breasts and butt -- from a distance).
  • We see Jean-Baptiste shirtless.
  • Affected by the scent of Jean-Baptiste's perfume, the crowd that came to watch his beating and death are suddenly in rapture, and start kissing and caressing each other, followed by them undressing (women to men, men to women, and women to women). That results in a mass orgy, mostly seen from a distance with views of bare breasts, butts of both sexes and some brief glimpses of female full frontal nudity. We then see various views of this orgy and its hundreds of participants. Later, after the olfactory effect has worn off, the various participants wake up, and shamefully separate themselves from the others and pull their clothing back on (breasts and butts are also seen during this transitional period).
  • Jean-Baptiste imagines being with his first victim while she was alive, with a partial nipple view in her low-cut top. He then imagines being on top of her (still alive), with views of her bare breasts, and sex is suggested.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Antoine wants Laura to marry her suitor, but she doesn't want to.
  • Upset upon seeing Laura freely dancing in public (worried since he knows the killer is still on the loose when everyone else thinks he's been caught), Antoine slaps her face, prompting her to run off.
  • A father finds his dead daughter in her bed with her hair having been cut nearly down to the scalp.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The sense of smell and how that differs between humans and animals.
  • The comment that the soul of people is their scent.
  • Serial murderers.
  • We hear that an unseen person admitted to the crimes, albeit after being tortured. Later, we see a prisoner being tortured (dunked into water).
  • VIOLENCE
  • We see Jean-Baptiste, shirtless and chained, being pulled out of a prison cell (he has dried cuts and blood on his skin). He falls and is then yanked along back to his feet.
  • Jean-Baptiste's mother is hanged for abandoning her baby (we see the noose around the neck, but not the actual impact).
  • We see that the infant Jean-Baptiste is taken to a filthy and overcrowded orphanage where an adult worker is mean to one boy, and some young kids wonder if the infant is dead. One boy goes to poke him to check, but Jean-Baptiste grabs and smells the boy's finger, unnerving him. That boy and others then decide to smother the baby, but his cries alert the woman who runs the place. She then repeatedly whacks those kids with some sort of rod.
  • Jean-Baptiste avoids an apple thrown at his head (from behind by another boy in the orphanage).
  • Two men rob an older woman, slitting her throat in the process, killing her. We see the motion but not the impact, although we then see her lying on the street with a bloody neck.
  • Jean-Baptiste freaks out a young woman by following her into a desolate area at night, smelling her hands, and then slowly keeping after her, eventually showing up directly behind her as she sits and peels some fruit. She panics and starts to scream, but he grabs and puts his hand over her mouth to stifle her sounds so that a couple doesn't hear her. He continues this until he realizes he's accidentally smothered her.
  • Jean-Baptiste's tannery boss repeatedly whacks him with a rod or something similar for having wandered off in the city.
  • Jean-Baptiste's tannery boss falls, hits his head and then rolls into a body of water, presumably drowning.
  • Jean-Baptiste grabs Baldini's arm hard when the former awakens from a powerful dream.
  • We hear the sound of breaking glass, and Baldini then finds Jean-Baptiste all distraught in the laboratory, upset that he can't extract the smell of glass or metallic elements. Jean-Baptiste then smashes several beakers down to the floor, with Baldini then wondering what else Jean-Baptiste worked on, finding a dead and wet cat in the cauldron (Baldini removes it). Jean-Baptiste then feints and lands hard on the floor.
  • A large row house on a bridge suddenly collapses, presumably killing at least two people inside it (seen from a distance).
  • Jean-Baptiste's female boss slaps a male subordinate on the head for doing something wrong, while the male boss slaps Jean-Baptiste on the back of the head to make him go check on something.
  • We see a dead woman's fully nude body floating in a large, transparent vat (her eyes are open and we see her bare breasts and side of bare butt -- Jean-Baptiste killed her, but we didn't see the act).
  • Jean-Baptiste hits and kills a prostitute.
  • Jean-Baptiste throws a stone or something similar to break a lamp above Laura and another man.
  • It's implied that Jean-Baptiste has killed two twins.
  • We hear the thump of Jean-Baptiste killing another young woman, and then see him snatching another. We then see views of bystanders finding the victims' nude bodies (we see bare breasts and sides of bare butts).
  • A mob beats up an innocent man they believe to be the killer (with slightly bloody results).
  • More killings are implied and we see quick views of more nude bodies (bare breasts and butts).
  • We see a montage of people shooting others with muskets upon thinking they're the killer (some in reactionary surprise).
  • We see a clothed but dead nun being pulled up some stone steps.
  • Upset upon seeing Laura freely dancing in public (worried since he knows the killer is still on the loose when everyone else thinks he's been caught), Antoine slaps her face, prompting her to run off.
  • A father finds his dead daughter in her bed, having been killed by Jean-Baptiste.
  • Soldiers surround Antoine with guns drawn, with one firing his rifle (the shot hits a tree near him).
  • We see Jean-Baptiste's head underwater as he's been dunked to make him talk (he's bound and hanging by his feet). When he doesn't give Antoine a satisfactory answer, Jean-Baptiste is dunked again, with bubbles coming up before he's raised again.
  • Guards remove a chained Jean-Baptiste from his cell. When he falls, a guard repeatedly kicks him on the floor.
  • We see a man captured as the supposed killer, hear that he was tortured, and then see a full view of him being hanged.
  • After Jean-Baptiste pours his perfume over his head, a bunch of grungy city dwellers surround, caress, grab at, and then pile onto him. When they finally leave, we see that Jean-Baptiste is gone (just some clothes are left), apparently having been torn away, bit by bit by the mesmerized crowd.



  • Reviewed November 6, 2007 / Posted January 12, 2007

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