What’s it about?
Perfect Sense, previously known as The Last Word, is set in modern day Glasgow and tells the story of Susan (Eva Green) an epidemiologist who, on her first day back to work after a leave of absence, is asked to consult on a possible epidemic. Across the globe, in seemingly unrelated cases, people are struck down with crushing grief and then loose their sense of smell.
Susan meets Michael (Ewan McGregor), a chef in a restaurant opposite her apartment. While the pair begin to fall in love, the epidemic expands around the world, with ever-increasing waves of extreme emotions followed by the loss of yet another sense. The film is from Danish screenwriter Kim Fupz Aakeson and a certain Scandinavian other worldliness is infused into the script which is set in realism but has a fairytale macabre quality.
Susan is a great role for French star Eva Green. It plays to her otherworldly and slightly melancholy strengths allied to Ewan McGregor’s seemingly happy-go-lucky chef character. Both Susan and Michael are at the coal face of the senses in that Susan watches and attempts to stem the epidemic while Michael’s job is awash with senses as he works in a noisy busy kitchen. The pair bond when Michael comes across Susan struck by a bout of grief before loosing her sense of smell. While Michael is comforting her, he too experiences overwhelming grief with the loose of smell following. Not being able to smell, though it means the loss of so many memories related to it, is not debilitating to people and they learn to adapt and carry on with their lives.
A stand out sequence occurs when the epidemic progresses and people are overcome with a sense of terror and then severe hunger. People shove as much food regardless of mad combinations into themselves as quickly as possible as if they were on a bulimic blow out. The restaurant where Michael works is shown in most detail as the gluttonous rampage is over almost as soon as it has begun. Then the sense of taste is gone. Again, people adapt and even return to restaurants now enjoying the sensation of food and its textures. All the while, Susan and Michael are falling in love and the melancholy that hangs over Susan begins to lift as does the more hidden sadness of Michael. But they are at the beginning of a relationship where misunderstandings are felt more sharply as they are still learning about each other.
Director David Mackenzie gradually introduces a sense of growing unease by subtly changing common every day scenes to reflect the fear and unbalance that an epidemic can bring. The relative calm after each emotional storm leaves physical and emotional debris around and within the characters.
How’s the picture and sound?
Perfect Sense is a gorgeous looking film with a good transfer job done and the sound design excellent, too.
McGregor gives a short interview from the Red Carpet before the premiere of Perfect Sense at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2011. He talks about the film being his opportunity to act with his uncle Denis Lawson and to work on a film which he perceives as being an optimistic love story and not a science fiction film. McGregor is engaging and speaks with obvious interest in the project. Also included is a ‘Making Of’.
Interviews with Ewen Bremner, Denis Lawson and Alister MacKenzie. Bremner enjoyed the opportunity to work with McGregor again after Trainspotting and went into detail about the filming of the Hunger scene during the film. Lawson talks about the tight schedule of the film and the experience of finally acting with his nephew and the ease in which they worked together. Alister MacKenzie discusses how his brother went about directing the film and that he does see it as a Sci-Fi film though they do twist the genre somewhat in favour of the love story. MacKenzie considers the film as optimistic with the message of the importance for us to seize the day.
The film takes on more quietly introduced science fiction elements once hatred hits the affected and people loose their sense of hearing. We the audience then begin to experience this lost sense on a sensory level as we experience the lack of sound along with the characters, first with Michael and then with Susan. The devastation of the loss is felt more greatly. D
Director Makenzie plays with the soundtrack of the film, reintroducing sound to the audience to heighten our sense of what has just been lost. We realize we are experiencing a sci-fi film in that we begin to see the familiar elements of a government reaction plan to the confirmed epidemic and the Glasgow streets now look like a post-apocalyptic zombie attack.
As people become more isolated within themselves due to the loss of senses, the intangible sense of love is felt more intensely. What appears to be a deeply pessimistic film becomes far more optimistic as the characters experiencing love as they had not done so before. When the last sense is gone, sight, the ending is left ambiguous. The narrator of the film becomes far more important as all we are left with are words which construct the ending within an audiences mind. It is up to the individual to decide if they find this film to be optimistic or pessimistic.
One thing is for sure, it is deeply moving and thought provoking and a film that will stay with you long after it has been viewed.
Extra Features Rating:
When’s it out?
Perfect Sense is released 30th January
You can also enter our competition to win a signed film poster and DVD: Perfect Sense competition. Ewan McGregor signed it. You know you want it.