The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

What is left when you’ve lost all your senses?

with 13 comments


There was darkness. There is light. There are men and women. There’s food. There are restaurants. Disease. There’s work. Traffic. The days as we know them, the world as we imagine the world.”

It’s an ordinary day in Glasgow. Or so it seems. But the everyday life is interrupted by a new, and strange phenomenon. People all over the world are suddenly overcome with emotions of despair, followed by a loss of their sense of smell. At first there are only a few cases, but after a while it gets epidemic. And this is only the beginning.

How people respond
Perfect Sense is a science fiction movie of the kind that I like: with more emphasis on the fiction, than on the science. The “science” doesn’t even pretend to be believable. No explanation is given to why mankind suddenly literally starts to lose all their senses, one after one, due to this mysterious condition. Is it infectious? Is it a mutation, something “from space” or a random idea by an unknown deity? This is never discussed. All you can do is to suspend your disbelief and accept that this happens. What’s more interesting is to see how people respond to it.

We see some of the measures society takes against the emerging disaster, but it’s not the main focus of the movie. It gravitates towards the perspective of the individuals, in this case a couple – a chef and an epidemiologist – who fall helplessly in love in the middle of the accelerating chaos.

The apparently low budget makes the production look a little bit cheap, sometimes reminding of TV more than a movie intended for theatres. But this didn’t bother me much at all. More than an action movie or a roller coaster ride, this is a beautiful love poem. And you don’t need either SFX or CGI to cut a connection to your heart.

Uplifting movie
Doesn’t it get depressing to see people becoming more and more handicapped, cut off from each other and from the world? Actually it doesn’t.

How weird as it may sound, it’s uplifting to see how innovative people become to find ways to get by without their senses. When they lose their smell, the compensate making the food sweeter and hotter. When the taste is gone, suddenly they start to experience the sound and texture of food in a new way. And always in the centre are the lovers, getting closer and closer with each other at the same rate as their senses disappear.

I hope that IMDb hasn’t kept good track of how well this movie has made it at the box office because it appears to be a disaster: 1 567 dollars in US (opening on one screen) and 21 675 pounds in UK. Even if your budget was low, it sounds like a loss, especially if you hire stars like Ewan McGregor and Eva Green.

As one single blogger I don’t think I can make a huge difference to those numbers, but if I can inspire just a few more people to see it, I’m happy. I think it deserves it.

Perfect Sense (David Mackenzie, UK 2011) My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

March 22, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Posted in Perfect Sense

13 Responses

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  1. Great post. I’ve yet to see this (I definitely will since the premise is intriguing) but it reminded me a lot about a book I read recently about a chef that loses her sense of smell after an accident and her whole life is thrown out of balance. I totally recommend it! (


    March 23, 2013 at 7:47 am

    • Thank you! You definitely should check out this one! There are a lot of great scenes at the restaurant where Ewan McGregor’s character works and we get to see them tackle not only the loss of smell, but the lost of taste, which is trickier. Basically you could as well just eat fat and flour if you can’t taste anything. Or maybe not?

      That book definitely looks interesting!


      March 23, 2013 at 3:34 pm

  2. Beautiful review. How did this film slip past me. It looks like something I’d really enjoy. Thanks for taking time to review it Jessica!


    March 23, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    • Thank you Keith! It seems to be very poorly distributed, so no wonder it slipped past you. I heard about it in Kermode’s podcast and have been waiting for it ever since to turn up in Sweden. Finally I got tired of waiting and bought it from abroad. It’s strange that it hasn’t got any Swedish release at all considering that the name of a Swedish film production/distribution company shows up in the text credits.


      March 24, 2013 at 11:02 am

  3. Nice one Jessica. Glad to hear you enjoyed it. This really struck a chord with me and was one of my favourite films of last year. Obviously I won’t go into detail but the ending was absolutely devastating. I loved every minute of this.

    Mark Walker

    March 23, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    • Thanks Mark! The ending was stunning and I resisted a strong temptation to quote the final lines in the review. I loved particlarly that it took place in your neighborhood. It’s a joy hearing the accent!


      March 24, 2013 at 11:03 am

      • Yeah, that’s my home turf. It’s always a bit bizarre when you’re seeing the places that you walk by on a regular basis. This added a real authenticity that kicked it up another notch for me. Loved it.

        Mark Walker

        March 24, 2013 at 11:23 am

  4. Excellent review, Jessica! Very thought-provoking, I must watch this one.


    March 24, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    • Thak you! I really recommend it. Sci-fi and romance in a wonderful combination.


      March 24, 2013 at 2:52 pm

  5. I’m always recommending this one, it really slipped through the net. When I saw it in the cinema the idiots ruined the effect of the ending by turning the lights on. If you’re going to watch this at home make sure all your lights are off folks! The score by Max Richter is one of the best of recent times

    the movie waffler

    March 24, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    • Ouch. I see that happen way to often in theatres and it always annoys me. The act of turning on the lights has a strong impact on the audience. The moment it happens, they will leave their chairs, no matter if the movie isn’t quite finished yet. It’s so insensitive by the staff.


      March 25, 2013 at 7:22 am

  6. I’m delighted to read this, as it’s a film I feel deserves far more love than it’s received. The husband and I watched this in bed on our laptop when it was on the BBC iplayer recently. It was one of the most bittersweet and beautiful films I’ve seen, leaving me full emotionally and still wanting more. We snuggled closer and closer as it reached the end, and I woke the next morning thinking about what I’d seen, pondering it, the nature of love and the nature of adaptation. I love films that make me think so deeply and rely on a concept rather than mindless car chases and explosions or info dumps – and its subtlety meant that, for me, it was one of the best films I’ve seen so far this year.


    April 17, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    • Yay!I have the feeling this movie hasn’t reached a wide audience, but those who have seen it love it the more intensely. I’m so glad to hear that you connected so much to it. Indeed it’s bittersweet. Sad but still very, very romantic.


      April 17, 2013 at 9:06 pm

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