Movie Review: Perfect Sense

Smell.  Taste.  Hearing.  Sight.  Touch.  What would happen if we were to lose our senses?

It all starts with the loss of the sense of smell.  It grows and becomes an epidemic.  Proceeded by an episode of inconsolable grief and regret, people gradually lose the ability to smell anything.  Yet, it’s not time to panic and there’s hope that this ailment is merely temporary or curable.

Not only that the sense of smell disappears permanently, taste begins to evaporate, proceeded by a primal hunger that results in bizarre behaviors.  People uncontrollably grab and gorge anything in sight like hot sauce, gallons of cooking oil, raw meat, fresh whole fish, bouquet of flowers, or worse.

The scenes shockingly unfold and elicit your sense of fear.  What would happen if you couldn’t tell the difference between what you eat and drink?  Without smell and taste, people initially stop going to restaurants because foods have no smell or taste.  But humans adapt.  Meals are cooked and prepared more boldly, emphasizing extreme flavors, temperature, texture and appearance.  A lot saltier or sweeter, freezing cold or scorching hot, spongy or crispy, artful shapes and colors.  People begin to savor the sound of trickling wine or clicking of glasses, or nature outside.  It heightens the other senses and thus awareness of the world around them.

Hearing loss is next, proceeded by a period of inner terror and outward rage.  Collectively, the compounding loss of senses lead to destructions, death, misery and anarchy.  Those who have lost their ability to hear are quarantined in their homes.  Government officials ask that they turn on their televisions to stay tuned for directions, which appear on the screen like subtitles, on what to do.

Eventually, people find ways to accommodate their hearing loss through posting symbols on the walls and learning sign language to communicate to one another.  With powerful mind and heart, humans are resilient beings.  While the quality of life has diminished, people deal with the new reality as best as they can and they evolve to survive.  Life goes on.

By then, however, everyone is all aware of what’s coming.  And it is inevitable.  The loss of the mighty sight.  Social structure and order would continue to collapse, and civilization will forever be lost.  Before the world descends into darkness, an event of euphoria is experienced to the fullest.  Joy, happiness, sense of togetherness with loved ones are truly felt and cherished.

We don’t know what the global impact of the final loss of sense, touch, would be, since the story ends.  Suffice it to say, you could use your imagination… imagine the world inhabited by humans without senses.

Throughout these gradual slaughtering of senses, striking images from around the world are shown.  While the story also focuses on the two central characters, chef ‘Michael’ (Ewan McGregor, “Haywire“) and scientist ‘Susan’ (Eva Green), as a whole, the film is larger than their relationships, chemistry or lack thereof.

Like breathing, we take our senses for granted.  While the use of episodes of grief, regret, horror, rage or euphoria may seem gimmicky, but there’s no mistaking that our senses make us who we are.  They protect us from harm and make us feel alive.  If there were any doubt, none would remain after witnessing the incomparable disaster that results from the deterioration and loss of senses.

With an original premise, “Perfect Sense” offers an intriguing look at human behaviors as their sensory perceptions are deprived when the apocalypse approaches.  Compared to the latest crop of movies this year, this limited-release indie is startlingly profound.

Copyright (c) 2012. Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a business manager, foreign language translator, lifestyle/travel writer and film columnist. She can be reached at indotransserv@gmail.com. Nathalia owns a movies blog, The MovieMaven (http://themoviemaven.posterous.com).  Twitter: http://twitter.com/the_moviemaven

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