Title: Perfect Sense
Directed By: David Mackenzie
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Eva Green, Ewen Bremner, Connie Nielsen, Stephen Dillane, Alastair Mackenzie
After catching a disaster film, my family always gets a laugh out of trying to figure out exactly what each of us would do in a time of crisis and I’m proud to say that the odds are generally on me to survive. However, if I ever found myself in the situation presented in Perfect Sense, I might just spare myself the stress and put an end to it before my time is really up. Then again, that probably has to do with the bleak and disheartening tone of the film more than anything.
Eva Green stars as Susan, a scientist living right near the restaurant where Ewan McGregor’s Michael is head chef. A little Romeo and Juliet-esque flirting ensues and they fall for each other. However, their intense passion for one another is somewhat tainted when the world is hit by a virus that causes people to lose their senses one by one. The first to go is smell and while it’s a sad thing to lose, the world recovers. When taste slips away, things get tougher, but people adapt, Michael altering his menu accordingly, putting more emphasis on texture rather than aiming to please a person’s palate.
That’s about it in the synopsis department because, well, you can probably figure out where it goes from there. Perfect Sense packs a particularly intriguing and disturbing core concept, but doesn’t really do much with it. The film is a one-way road to darkness. The lead character is a scientist and yet the effort to cure this disease is nearly nonexistent, which leaves the viewer with nothing to root for. Lacking even the slightest bit of hope, Perfect Sense is somewhat like watching someone with a terminal illness just slip away.
On the other hand, there is something incredibly fascinating about this story. Perfect Sense is one of those films that make you wonder what you’d do in that situation and the answer here isn’t as easy as running away from the storm or keeping your distance from the infected. Rather than being a fight for survival, it’s more a test of your adaptability.
Perfect Sense has got the curiosity factor, but instead of moving forward and developing it into a multi-dimensional view of the scenario, Susan and Michael’s story merely meanders along, wallowing in an overwhelming amount of despair. McGregor and Green do share a bit of chemistry, but as characters, they’re just not interesting or likable enough to keep you engaged in a 90-minute feature. Michael’s work as a chef provides a curious insight into the plot, but beyond his job, we don’t learn a single thing about him. Then, Susan’s position in a lab supposedly investigating the situation is completely wasted, never delving into the details and being disappointingly unconvincing. There’s also the fact that these two people are just miserable, particularly Susan. It’s a wonder they don’t just kill themselves the moment the virus strikes.
As for how they’re directly affected by the virus, it’s mostly heartbreaking, but certain instances are so extreme, it’s almost tough to take seriously. Before a sense disappears, the person goes through a tremendous, and often bizarre, state. When taste is about to disappear forever, people get manically hungry, a sensation that causes Green’s character to gobble up some flowers and McGregor to stuff his face in a kitchen full of food. Not their most flattering moments.
Dragging Perfect Sense down a bit further is the look of the film. The story, the characters and the performances are dull all on their own, but then director David Mackenzie opts to give the footage a slightly washed out look, making it all the more, you guessed it, dull. Mackenzie’s coverage is fine, but the camerawork overall is uninspired and often sucks the emotion out of some of the tensest scenes in the film.
There’s undeniable potential here, but the concept is explored and brought to life in all the wrong ways. Perhaps the goal here was to “say something” about the way the world might react to such a disaster, but, whether or not this is how it’d really go down, a movie is a movie and is meant to entertain. Not only does Perfect Sense move at a snail’s pace, but once you creep over the finish line, you’re left with a pit in your stomach, something that doesn’t inspire reflection, rather just brings you down.