Perfect Sense

20 Feb

Title: Perfect Sense
Year: 2012
Director: David Mackenzie
Writer: Kim Fupz Aakeson
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Eva Green, Connie Nielsen
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Runtime: 92 min
IMDb Rating: 7.1
Rotten Tomatoes: 51%
Metacritic: 55


Perfect Sense is a film with a pretty damn intriguing premise. It uses the end of the world, the apocalypse, as the setting for a romantic entanglement between a chef played by Ewan McGregor and an epidemiologist played by Eva Green. It’s not our typical end of the world with tens of natural disasters happening at the same time or aliens descending from the skies though, it’s one in which the entire world is afflicted by a very weird kind of disease that starts slowly robbing people of their senses, taking your smell away, then your taste, then your hearing. That brings forth a hell of a lot of social unrest, as senses are a huge part of the cement of society, and as it’s taken away the world crumbles down. In the midst of said crumbling down, you have Michael and Susan part of the group of people who try to maintain control and keep going to work, and who in a hopeless world begin a romantic relationship.

So yes, the whole film is like a sci-fi tale that posts some very intriguing questions about human nature thanks to a very unique kind of apocalyptic vision from director David Mackenzie and screenwriter Kim Fupz Aakeson. Though I guess it’s sort of problematic that the love story is nowhere near as compelling as the stuff about the sense-depriving plague, it’s just really cool how Mr. Mackenzie chose to represent the loss of each sense and the flurry of weird and raw emotions people started experiencing when they were moments from losing them. People having fits of grief before their smell goes away because of the relationship that sense has with memory; people eating and drinking literally anything and everything that’s at hand when they’re about to lose taste; going on really harsh outbursts of rage before going deaf. Those bits I thought were really good.

It really is a problem, though, that the romantic relationship wasn’t as interesting as the rest of the film. They have this very weird on-and-off relationship that they got into because they had to do something to deal with the chaos, and it’s during one of their “on again” moments that Michael starts going deaf and unleashes the rage that comes with that on Susan. So that’s left me unsure as to how much I like this movie ultimately, I didn’t get into the romantic story. We’re supposed to see these two people, who are quite self-centered, ignore their differences and just cling onto each other because it seems as though they don’t have all that much left otherwise, it just felt like a fake-out, a forced move in order to get at viewers emotionally even though it never come close to achieving that in my opinion.

I did like how it told the story of human race adapting to these new conditions and how it spoke about really appreciating every little pleasure in life. As the ailment starts afflicting human race, Michael has to make adjustments in his restaurant because people won’t be able to taste his food any more, so he starts focussing on the texture of it, on the color, on other things that would be able to provide pleasure. And I liked what it said about us as people when the restaurant still had people going through its doors even though they no longer could get the main thing restaurants are there to give, but they went to get the experience, to be served their meal, to be around others. I thought there was something really neat to how all of that was told.

It’s just that I couldn’t get on board with the other message this film gave. I liked the one that said we had to appreciate the little things in life, but the one that said that love is the last thing you lose just didn’t do it for me, no matter how easy on the eyes Mr. McGregor and Ms. Green are as a couple, the emotional impact this film so desperately aimed to have was nowhere near as on-the-money as the philosophical one. I just never once invested in Michael and Susan as characters, not to mention that the film many times puts more importance on their professions than on their actual personalities. You get that they get involved with each other because the apocalypse is not something you’d want to face alone, not even if you’re narcissistic like them, but you get the feeling they could’ve found more suitable partners.

I’m giving Perfect Sense a recommending grade because I liked what it did outside the bedroom of our two lead characters. I liked how it made us see how awesome it is to be human, to smell and to taste and to hear, how great the world around us is. So yes, that part of its agenda I did think it achieved quite well. However, to be honest, I also spent much of the film thinking of films like last year’s Contagion (which I gave an A-) and Alfonso Cuarón’s masterpiece, Children of Men, and thought I’d be better off watching those. For what it is, though, Perfect Sense is an okay film, it’s just that it could have been much better.

Grade: B-


One Response to “Perfect Sense”

  1. youjivinmeturkey February 20, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

    Nice. That’s Generally How It Happens These Days.
    You Think They’ve Got The Right Actor, or Director, and you think…
    …HOME RUN! And We’re Thinking WHY DIDN’T YOU SHOOT FOR A GRAND SLAM Type Thing. You Had The Parts To Do It, But You Turned Around Before You Crossed That Line hehehehe
    Movies Just Love Making You Feel Bad hehe
    In Some way, they always Disappoint hehehe

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