She’s a huge deal in the perfume world. She knows the recipes to virtually every perfume, and has even created many of the best sellers. She lives super comfortably, and her bourgeois lifestyle and abrasive personality are too exclusive to allow her to genuinely connect with people. Commoners are nothing but low-lives to Anne Walberg (Emmanuelle Devos); they are forced to socially distance from her even when there’s no pandemic, just by virtue of her personality.
He’s a chauffeur, newly assigned to drive Anne around. No reasonable human would be willing to put up with Anne’s entitlement issues, but a job’s a job, so Guillaume Favre (Grégory Montel) is gonna tolerate her. Maybe they’ll open up to each other throughout the journey and learn some valuable life lessons, just like in Driving Miss Daisy and Green Book and countless other movies. If any readers haven’t checked out by now, reading this bone-dry premise, they may belong to the bafflingly narrow target audience to whom this slight drama may mean anything.
Perfumes focuses on facets of life that mostly apply to a demographic which has never had to take a single political position in their life because they’re so privileged. With an inert dramatic hook, plain characters, and little subtext to chew on, there’s almost nothing to write home about besides the primitive cinematic elements. Sure, the film looks nice, with competent camera and lighting operators on the crew. Indeed, it sounds good too, owing to composer Gaëtan Russell’s ability to affix a sentimental undercurrent to a comatose script. And, most importantly, the actors are committed. Devos has a resting scowl that, deliberately or accidentally, adds extra layers to her character’s internal damage and external projections. Montel finely plays against her as the everyman. But, like that cheap pharmacy cologne that nobody’s checking for anymore, Perfumes is bland and has no lasting effect.
Perfumes is released digitally on Curzon Home Cinema on 21st August 2020.
Watch the trailer for Perfumes here: