Friday 19 February 2016

Dark Film Review – Perfect Sense (2011)

Dark Film Review – Perfect Sense (2011)

Review Written By Casey Douglass

I find myself in a little bit of a quandary. I really want to talk about Perfect Sense in-depth but on the other hand, I don’t want to provide lots of spoilers for a film that really truly rewards a first viewing in ignorance. I’ve decided to reign myself in and only treat this like a normal review, rather than a deep analysis. Maybe I will write that later, seems like a shame to waste the 5 sides of A4 I covered with notes.

Perfect Sense follows the story of Susan (Eva Green) and Michael (Ewan McGregor), two unhappy people that find each other just as the world starts going to shit. Michael is a chef, Susan is an epidemiologist. He works in a restaurant near Susan’s home, she works in a lab trying to get to the bottom of a strange condition that is beginning to manifest in people. Both have baggage, both have their jobs affected as globally, things go from bad to worse. They find though, that they have each other, and dare I say it, this makes them happy, some of the time.

To say much more than that would be too spoilerific sadly. While the film is a love story, it is one with a difference, one that doesn’t gloss over everything with a Disneyesque sheen of dreams being fulfilled and two lovers eating apple pie as the rain hits their window. Perfect Sense is a film about two self-labelled arseholes finding each other and growing into each other as society slowly goes down the drain. Even the very opening moments of the film give a great illustration of the tone: a voice-over saying “There is darkness, there is light...” and then we see Susan spit over the edge of a bridge. The film doesn’t stand on ceremony that’s for sure. The viewer gets to spend time with both characters separately, but this slowly changes as they first interact via shouting through open windows and generally gravitating into each other’s lives.

The score of the film is a melodic affair, piano and violin creating a variety of moods, although most are tinged with melancholy and sadness. The other auditory aspects of the film are just as strong, sounds expanding to muffle conversation at times, or vanishing into a hissing drone at others. Again, I can’t really go too in-depth about why this makes such an impact but on seeing the film, you will hopefully appreciate it as much as I do.

Visually, the scenes are shot with a variety of camera techniques, many of the scenes given a frenetic quality by fast moving hand-cams or cameras fixed to bikes. This sense of energy certainly adds to the frenzy of the people seen on screen, whether happy, sad or rioting. The film is also not short of some very striking images, that taken as a still, would look amazing on the wall. My particular favourite is Susan locked in her car watching a rider-less police horse amble past.

What I like most about Perfect Sense though, is the relationship between Susan and Michael. It’s not neat, it’s not fairytale, but it comes across as real, and that’s the most any film can hope for. The broader situation certainly puts a strain on their interactions, both helping each other or at times, being cruel, but there is also humour in the film, which is much needed as otherwise it would have felt a little relentless. Most of the humour comes from the couple, smirking or playing games but the other light relief comes in the form of James (Ewen Bremner), another chef in Michael’s kitchen who always has plenty to say, be it conspiracy theories or inviting people to sniff his finger.

The first time I watched Perfect Sense, it felt like a sledgehammer had hit me in the chest. Few films have gripped me as tightly as the happenings in this film. In part, this is due to the nature of the disease that is affecting the world, tapping into a variety of my own phobias and fears, but also, it is because it is a love story for the disaffected, the darker-natured, more twisted viewer that thinks love is something that always happens to other people or that if it does happen, it’s more trouble than it’s worth. While the love story in Perfect Sense is far from idyllic, it made me genuinely feel that even a few weeks of what Susan and Michael had is something that would be well worth experiencing.

If you haven’t seen Perfect Sense and like darker films, do yourself a favour and watch it when the opportunity arises. In some ways, it’s scarier than most horror films. A big claim I know but one that was personally true for me at least.

As far as a rating, I give Perfect Sense an easy 5/5, no doubt about it.

You can watch the Perfect Sense trailer below:

Perfect Sense Images © Copyright Arrow Films

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