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Shining a Light On: Perfect Sense

Article By: Alice-Ginevra Micheli

Between the thousands of movies released each year reside the forgotten ones, films of quality who may never see the light again. In this column I will attempt to find some of these hidden gems and explain why they deserve their day in the sun.


Movie: Perfect Sense

Release Date: February 3rd 2012

Worldwide Box Office: $138, 868


In a day and age where the dystopian film comes along every fortnight, and romances are too cliché to take seriously, it’s a wonder that any manage to have any semblance of originality. Yet who would believe that there exists one that combines these genres and does so in a refreshing, poetic and unique way, leaving you with feelings of intense emotion as the final credits role.

All this and more can be found in David Mackenzie’s (Hell or High Water) lost triumph, Perfect Sense, a film that finds a culinary Ewan McGregor and scientific Eva Green falling in love in a world where an epidemic begins to take people’s senses.

From the outset you are presented with a normal society, an unidentifiable narration bringing you into the world and helping show how people live from day to day. We’re then introduced to our heroes who meet, have sex and do all the other activities an on-screen couple tend to do when they’re destined to fall in love. However this reality is soon broken, as the first sense disappears. It’s not just the loss of the sense, which quietly shocks, but the manner in which it occurs. Rather than just have the characters waking up with it missing, the film decides to take a more nuanced path toward its impending doom.

What follows is an in-depth look into the human condition, mixing photography, disjointed clips and plot into a completely new way of telling a story, particularly one of a pre-dystopian world. Instead of focusing on the “science fiction” it chooses to look at the in-betweens, the adaptive nature of people and how learning to cope is the same as leaning on hope, no matter the possible outcome.

Mackenzie’s unpredictable direction complements this story telling, using extreme close ups, and experimental techniques as a way to position the audience as a member of this society. Throughout you’re constantly thinking about what you would do in this situation, and whether you’d would be able to live in this world.

Max Richter’s transcending score, instantly transporting and controlling your emotions with the change of a key or the swell of a violin’s note, translates what is occurring in a visceral and unapologetic manner, which only elevates what Mackenzie is doing.

Also important to highlight are the performances, with Green and McGregor delivering stellar turns as their diverse yet complementary characters, allowing the audience a look into the lives of these complicated beings, as flawed as they may be. They are only further enhanced by the fantastic cast of characters that surround them, which are few but powerful. Their existence serves the purpose of exhibiting the full spectrum of human emotion, allowing anyone watching to latch on and relate to one of these characters as most identical in nature to themselves. The film hinges on each of these characters not just being believable, but also giving something intangible of to the part. We need to be able to feel their feelings, understand their thoughts and experience this journey with them, and they manage to achieve just that.

Now, this film might not be for everybody. Some might call it pretentious the way in which it attempts to explain what it means to be human in 90 minutes. Others might go in expecting a big science fiction adventure only to be turned off by it’s quiet depiction. And there may also be those that feel less than happy with its controversial conclusion, and that’s fine.

This is a very particular kind of movie, one that isn’t meant to draw in great crowds at the cinema with promises of action and twists and turns. Its heroes aren’t there to save the day, there’s no villain to blame and, most importantly, it doesn’t end with a climactic and explosive battle for Earth. However what it is, is an achievement in filmmaking, a truly original story with quality at every turn, whether it’s the beautiful cinematography, the sound editing or the writing.

Overall, Perfect Sense deserves more recognition for it’s refusal to fit within any normalised genre, and it’s achievement in doing so. If you like romance, science fiction, drama or questioning what it means to be human, I sincerely hope you’ll give this a chance, after all what’s the worst that could happen?

Alice Ginevra Micheli
Her love of film, novels and all things media led her to study Screen and Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne. Fascinated with the culture of entertainment today she keeps up to date on all the news and going-ons within the industry. When not traversing the internet and cinemas, she spends her time catching up on whatever TV or book series she's currently obsessed with.

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