Reviewed bysassycotbVote: 9/10/10
I don't think this was meant to be appealing or entertaining as amainstream film. I think that as an offering to the mainstream asglimpse into the fashion industry, it hit it's mark. You were invitedinto that culture for a little while, listen, trail behind and watch,and left to draw your own conclusions about some of it. It had enoughof a documentary-reality media feel to it to be very compelling, if youwished to participate.
I hung out on the fringes of the fashion media industry for about 10years when I lived in New York, and I can tell you that I had or heardsome of those very same conversations - I could just about finish somany of their sentences. There really are the Janices who leave theirfamilies behind, etc., etc.
I appreciate a film or a book that doesn't spoon-feed me information,or tell me how I need to feel. I like to be able to bring something ofmyself to it; that to me is intelligent interaction, and what art atevery level is all about.
Reviewed bytedg (email@example.com)Vote: 7/10/10
I avidly pursue these small straight to video films because sometimesyou hit gold. Last year, I was rewarded twice with 'Panic' and thedelicious '10 Things...' That film resembles this in some ways. Butthen this resembles so many other projects, most closely Altman's'Ready to Wear' but done in a 'Best in Show' technique where the actorsdevise the dialog. I'm very skeptical of that technique because actorsjust don't have the skills or interests to shape all the dimensions ofa project. But they do well enough here to not embarrass and in onecase: Sorvino and Gallagher as gentle lovers they do very, very well.
But overall -- except for one major exception -- nothing in the filmrises beyond pleasant spacefiller. There are lots of elements thatmight have been exploited but were not: the design of the eponymousperfume bottle, the state of the adrift daughter, the intelligence ofthe street designer (indeed, mirroring of one designer's acceptance andones rejection of damaged children), the entrée to the big time througha sexual initiation and rejection, the drive to style and influence.
The sad thing is the lack of style in the whole project: It lacked any,and this seemed strange: it was as if the whole thing were told throughan urchin's eyes.
There is one thing, one sequence, that makes this project worthwhile.As with most modern scripts, there is a self-referential bit. Here, thefilmmaker is represented by a photographer who is presented with apromising subject. But she comes attached with 'dialog' that they bothfeel uncomfortable with. So they forcefully eject those that forcethese constraints and just ad lib the session. Naturally, that's whatRymer is doing with the film, so this scene is underscored. (Thephotographer is later rewarded for his intuition.) The importance ofthese scene is further emphasized by framing the whole film by twoother sessions of this photographer -- the first is of himphotographing nude women (obviously a nod to the expected exposure ofthe raw personalities of fashion to come). This is a glam heroin shotthat emphasizes the wan 'pain' of the girls. Estella shows up andrefuses to participate.
Then at the end, we have the same photographer, on the street, shootinga healthy-looking Estella while the drugaddled daughter walks by in thebackground. So that scene in the middle where thephotographer/filmmaker takes things into his own hands is the soul ofthe movie. And it is a worthy sequence.
First of all, it features Mariel Hemingway, someone whose mere presenceis impressive. The implicit pun on hemming is not beneath the level ofallusion here. More powerful is the association with her famousgrandfather (who killed himself) and her sister (who also killedherself). That sister made a big splash by endorsing perfume. Mariel isan enormously compelling screen presence, here at 40, and hypnotizinglylovely.
The dialog in this section is wonderful -- that stuff they say when theactual shoot is underway. In the story, that relationship between seerand seen, between designer and human art forms the armature for thewhole evening: It is only a couple minutes -- he with his Mighty Mouse,she with her Moody Blues.
Reviewed byaimless-46Vote: 7/10/10
Wow, I never expected to find myself in the position of defending afilm like "Perfume" which I only watched because Angela Bettis had asmall role. But having recently viewed similar fashionindustry/magazine films, "Fashionably LA" and "The Intern", I amunexpectedly well versed in this narrow sub-genre. Coming from thatperspective "Perfume" is a lyrical masterpiece, both more ambitious andmore successful than those two disasters. But since everything isrelative this comparison may not translate into anything very usefulfor the prospective viewer.
First on the agenda is a cautionary statement about the trailer, theDVD cover, and the general promotional campaign. The cast is grosslymisrepresented. Carmen Electra is given first billing but appears inonly one short scene, a wide shot of her talking to Paul Sorvino.Supermodel Estella Warren is highlighted on the promotional poster butis just window dressing in two scenes. The five biggest parts areplayed by Rita Wilson, Leslie Munn, Joanne Baron, Jared Harris, andSorvino, none of whom are even mentioned in the promotional materials.
But promotional misrepresentation, even to this extreme, has norelationship to the quality of the film. What "Perfume" has going forit (like Robert Altman's "Pret a Porter") is success working on twolevels, as a glimpse inside the fashion industry and as a metaphoricalextension (of what it reveals) to our day-to-day struggle in thecompetitive world. Whether we are artists, artisans, robots, or drones;each day is one of struggle with external competitors and internaldemons.
How well the film works for individual viewers will be determined bythe identification process, which will naturally be easier for thosefamiliar with the world of high fashion or with other environmentswhere creativity is exploited for profit.
Although "Perfume" was a scripted film there is considerableimprovisation in the performances, with mixed results. For example,Harris and Mariel Hemingway do a photographer/model photo shoot wherehis improv is excellent and hers is somewhat lame. Although thisinitially seems like poor directing, on reflection it is more authenticthan giving Hemingway carefully scripted lines and a smooth delivery.
"Perfume" is recommended for those who might identify with its settingor its themes. The production design, the editing, and the soundtrackare first class. But if you are annoyed rather than challenged by filmswith an elliptical storytelling technique and many characters you woulddo well to give this one a wide berth.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
'Perfume' chronicles one week in the lives of over a dozen people involved in the magazine and entertainment business of New York City. The central characters include Italian designer Lorenzo Mancini who learns that he's dying from cancer and decides to get his affairs in order with his wife Irine and his business partner Guido. Lorenzo's son Mario is a recording promoter who's latest client is hip-hop rapper J.B.. Roberta is a designer hard-pressed to fill out a latest dress design for the next Broadway show her group is putting on. Other characters are Jamie, a crafty agent whose latest client, Camille finds success but affects their relationship in ways he never planned and fails to deal with. Leese Hotton is a has-been model/actress trying to make a comeback into the spotlight; Janice Crawford is a wealthy publisher and control freak whose problems escalate with the arrival of her estranged teenage daughter Halley whom Janice abandoned her and everything else for her career years ...