Perfect Sense (2015)
“A Modern Love Story”
Perfect Sense (2011)
Director: David Mackenzie
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Eva Green, Lauren Tempany
Synopsis: A chef and a scientist fall in love as an epidemic begins to rob people of their sensory perceptions.
Most end of the world movies follow a fairly rigid pattern: a brief depiction of normality, the first cases, the desperate search for a cure, the increasing panic followed by the breakdown of society, and (usually) the just-in-time world-saving cure/antidote. Perfect Sense is different in every way, and for this reason might not find favour with those expecting a more typical example of the genre. Perfect Sense is a far more thoughtful study of a pre-apocalyptic world, tinged with melancholy and yet offering a poetic suggestion of hope for the human condition.
Primarily set in Scotland, the film concerns a mysterious plague that descends upon the world in stages as each of our senses is irretrievably lost. Smell is the first to go, preceded by overwhelming emotions of loss and regret because the sense of smell is so closely linked to our memories. Next is the sense of taste, this time preceded by the victims’ irresistible compulsion to gorge themselves on anything edible (including raw fish and lipstick).
The pandemic serves as an intrusive backdrop to the beginning of a relationship between a womanising chef (Ewan McGregor – Beginners, Haywire) and one of the scientists battling to find a cure (Eva Green – 300:Rise of an Empire). They are on a kind of improvised first date when they are both afflicted by the first symptoms, thereby closely linking the stages of their relationship with those of the disease. Each new stage of the disease means they, like the rest of the world, are forced to reassess their point of view and readjust their relationship accordingly.
The film elects not to focus so much on the search for a cure, choosing instead to follow a more intimate path, studying instead the aforementioned adjustments the world has to make, and crystallising these changes in the shifting aspects of the relationship between McGregor and Green. It’s a technique that works well, giving the hugest of subjects an intimate tenderness that would surely otherwise be unattainable.
As the real world’s population seems to be losing the ability to reach out to one another due to a burgeoning technology that actively encourages the internalising of one’s sense – we block out the world as we focus on our mobiles, ipads, ipods etc – Perfect Sense seems to beseech us to re-connect. It’s a worthwhile message, and is conveyed in an intelligent and thought-provoking way.
(Reviewed 11th February 2012)