An obsessive French perfumer with a highly developed olfactory sense and an all-consuming drive to capture the essence of love eventually resorts to murder in his unrepentant quest to find the key ingredient for his recipe in director Tom Tykwer's adaptation of author Patrick Suskind's best-selling 1985 novel. Born in a fetid fish market and raised in a dilapidated orphanage, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw) toiled his childhood away in a rank tannery run by the thuggish Grimal (Sam Douglas). Subsequently obsessed by smell, Grenouille's keen olfactory sense becomes so finely tuned that it eventually overpowers such human qualities as love and compassion. Though he has indeed discovered the unmistakable scent of a woman, Grenouille finds it impossible to connect with the fairer sex on any sort of meaningful level. Roaming the streets of Paris late one night, Grenouille catches the scent of a young girl selling plums and impulsively strangles her, later sniffing her nude corpse in a twisted attempt to preserve the distinctive scent in his memory. After persuading legendary perfumer Giuseppe Baldini (Dustin Hoffman) to take him on as an apprentice, Grenouille travels to the town of Grasse in Southern France in order to learn the art of enfleurage at a firm run by the highly respected Mme. Arnulfi (Corinna Harfouch). It is there that Grenouille becomes dangerously drawn to the vestal aroma of the young and beautiful Laura (Rachel Hurd-Wood), the daughter of widower merchant Antione Richis (Alan Rickman). Soon driven to madness by such a pure scent, the spellbound Grenouille continues to claim the lives of the numerous young girls in a tragic attempt to bottle the impossibly elusive smell of virginal womanhood.
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Ratings and Reviews
Critics Consensus: Perfume is what you'd expect from a Tom Twyker-directed movie glamorizing a serial killer: a kinetic visual feast, with a dark antihero that's impossible to feel sympathy for.