Presently, science fiction is undergoing a bit of a renaissance in theatres. There’s been a trend for a number of years now to produce films which have stronger ties of very human messages. With motion pictures like DISTRICT 9, MONSTERS, CLOVERFIELD, and even 2011’s BATTLE: LOS ANGELES, writers and directors have been spinning tales about the increasing human cost to our sci-fi encounters with the unknown. Some of them have focused more heavily on the action quotient, but, by these films’ conclusions, there has been ample analysis of the risks to the ‘regular folks’ when faced with the unknown, may it take the shape of aliens, monsters, or other organisms. PERFECT SENSE continues in this same mold, upping the stakes for individuals. This time around, it isn’t aliens we’re facing. Instead, it’s an inescapable virus.
Two self-possessed young professionals – a gourmet chef (Ewan McGregor) and a epidemiologist (Eva Green) – find one another at the most trying time in human history: mankind is falling victim to a mysterious plague that robs us of our senses – one by one. Can a cure for what ails them – the plague or their own narcissism – reach them in time?
I won’t spoil it, but I will say that PERFECT SENSE is a perfect winner of a film. Its narration bobs and weaves back and forth between the standard linear – think any other story – and the documentary – scenes and images captured from the greater world at large. The more we get to know our two principles, the more that’s stripped away from them, only forcing us to understand them even more as they collectively lose their sense of smell, then taste, then hearing. It’s as much a cautionary tale as it is an old school romance – boy-meets-girl, boy-gets-girl, boy-loses-girl, but aren’t they fated to find one another again? – is the best possible sense. McGregor and Green’s performances are comfortable and measured, especially when they’re at the weakest – be it having one more layer of their humanity whisked away from them or when they’re lost in one another’s arms. It’s tragic and meaningful – sharp and resourceful – and, if you take it all to heart, you’ll definitely come away with a tremendous appreciation for what smart science fiction looks like in the modern age.
PERFECT SENSE is a product of IFC FILMS and BBC FILMS with participation from Zentropa Entertainments 5, the Danish Film Institute, Film I Vast, Bord Scannan Na Heireann / the Irish Film Board, and Sigma Films. The script is from Kim Fupzaakeson, and it’s directed with great attention to detail by David Mackenzie. It all looks and sounds grand here, though I’ll admit that I had to crank the volume quite a way up through part of Green’s narrated voiceovers; I don’t know if it was a fault of the original recording track or the fact that perhaps it was mixed noticeably lower than the rest of the piece. Sadly, the disc only contains two features – a making-of short (2 minutes long?) and the trailer – and I would’ve definitely loved to have much, much more by way of commentaries and longer documentaries, giving more insight into this very special film.
HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION. Poignant and relevant, PERFECT SENSE will challenge you to think about your life and the greater world around you in ways you may never have before, and it just might have you clinging to that special someone, lingering a few extra moments in her embrace or her scent if for no other reason than for it to remain fresh in your mind.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at IFC Films provided me with a DVD screener copy of PERFECT SENSE for the expressed purposes of completing this review.