Warning: Spoilers Abound
4 out of 5 stars
Yet another movie that I wouldn’t know existed if it weren’t for the amazing, VideoETA.com. You see VideoETA is a great resource for finding out both theatrical and home release dates of movies. Often while checking to find the date of a film I know about I discover hidden gems. These are often films that had a limited or direct to DVD release.
That was the case with Perfect Sense, also known as The Last Word. It is a perfect case of this, as the film was released in only 1 theater for 1 week. It was directed by David Mackenzie and written by Kim Fupz Aakeson. It was shot and set in Glasgow.
If you only saw the film’s cover you may just go in thinking that it’s a standard romantic drama but it’s so much more. This 2011 drama is the most disturbing movie that I’ve seen this year.
The movie is about a horrifying disease that individually steals humans’ senses. As the film progresses, we gradually see and feel the characters lose their senses of smell, taste, sound, and finally sight. It’s implied that they will eventually lose touch as well.
Although the movie shows how this would affect large populations of people in various countries (most likely using stock footage of actual riots, etc, which is also incredibly disturbing) it mainly focuses on how this would affect us as individuals.
The movie focuses on Michael (Ewan McGregor), a chef with intimacy issues, and Susan (Eva Green), a scientist who is sick of men mistreating her.
Despite her annoyance at the interruption of a phone call, Susan first meets Michael when he bums a cigarette from her. Their meet-cute takes place easily since he is a chef at a restaurant right across the alley from her apartment.
Despite her initial reticence at getting involved with a player, Susan decides to dine one night after hours with Michael. This is during the beginning of their loss of senses. This causes a very close connection between them as they simultaneously lose their sense of smell.
As they lose more and more senses they rely on and fall for each other. This is incredibly romantic and seductive. They let down their defenses and tell each other things they’ve never told another soul because they can feel everything ending and need something honest.
Want to go dancing?”
Despite the interspersed footage of riots and the horror of the situation, including the fact that as someone who has been studying this epidemic from the beginning, Susan admits that no one really knows what will happen next, for a while things are going better than normal for the characters. Why? LOVE, of course.
Unfortunately, before the loss of each sense, humans experience a heightened sense or emotion. So before the loss of hearing they become very angry and violent. This is when Michael scares and drives away Susan after yelling terrible things at her and then wrecking his own home.
This causes them to be apart during the horror of losing their hearing. However, they both try their best to enjoy life as they can. Michael eventually goes back to work and Susan learns to love her sister’s family (instead of just being jealous of them).
“…and if there had been anybody left to see them, then they would look like normal lovers, caressing each others’ faces, bodies close together, eyes closed, oblivious to the world around them…”
With the impending loss of sight, our lovers realize how important love and being with those you love is. So they reunite as the darkness closes in.
In addition to love overcoming the worst, we are also repeatedly presented with the idea that life goes on and humans learn to adapt. This is often shown to great effect at the restaurant where Michael works. For instance, when people lose their sense of smell, which is tied to taste, the chefs decide that they must increase the spiciness of the dishes to really give the customers flavor. Later as taste goes dining out is more about texture and feeling special as you spend time with a loved one and are waited on.
Perfect Sense is most definitely not an easy film to watch. In fact, you may cry. However, it’s incredibly touching, interesting, and innovative. It is a must-watch!
Note: I think this is an amazing movie. I just reserve 5 stars for movies with rewatchability. That rarely includes dramas, especially ones this heavy. I can’t see me watching this over and over.