Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with some more Sundance reviewing as I begin looking back at my time in Park City. Starting tomorrow you’ll see me in “catch-up mode” as I scramble to knock out the backlogged reviews.
If you talk to regular film fest attendees they’ll likely tell you the best part about watching movie after movie in a festival environment is the joy of “discovery,” getting to that one movie before everybody else. That’s only part of it, though. Being first isn’t all that important to me, but I love to have a movie unfold without knowing every detail, without having seen footage and maybe not even knowing the film’s genre.
That’s where I was going into Perfect Sense. I knew Ewan McGregor was in it and Eva Green was in it and that it was some kind of love story. That’s it. I had no idea it was an end-of-the-world story, the kind that’s more “ends with a whimper” than “ends with a bang,” I had no idea how these two characters get together… nothin’, so the movie just unfolded for me and it felt refreshing, almost like when I’d go see random movies at the mall theater as a kid just because they were playing, not caring about who was in it or what the poster was.
I know it’s kind of silly to talk about this in a format where it’s crucial to spill at least some things about the movie in question, so don’t take that as a complaint. It’s my business to find out about movies in advance, analyze spy photos, studio stills, rumors, scripts, posters and trailers all before I sit down in a theater to watch said movie. Not only for myself, but for thousands of other people, too.
All I’m saying is it’s nice to have a break from that for a while, catch a film as it takes its first deep drags of oxygen into its lungs and meets the world for the first time and be able to go into it with little pre-expectation.
With all that said, I’m gonna describe some of the movie for ya’ and tell you why it’s in my top 10 Sundance flicks of the fest. So there!
So, we have two people, a scientist and a chef, who are both deeply flawed when it comes to romance. I mean, when you’re as hot as Eva Green or as dashing as Ewan McGregor, the sex life is never going to be a problem. The issue comes with the ability to have a deeper connection. McGregor is in love with food and cooking, but can’t sleep in the same bed as his lover. Green is similarly involved with her job, but is incredibly guarded and comes off as very cold.
The flick is about these two people whose flaws fit together like a key into a lock meeting just as the world is beginning to unravel. This is a very real world story and the way the apocalypse comes about feels eerily accurate to how it’d really play out.
There’s sporadic instances of people weeping uncontrollably popping up around the world. At first they don’t seem connected until it’s discovered that every single person shortly thereafter loses their sense of smell. It’s unknown if it’s contagious, but soon it spreads to almost everyone.
Our two leads meet each other before this thing spreads too far, Green’s apartment overlooks the back alley where McGregor takes his smoke breaks, but their own issues stand in the way of either acting on the obvious attraction. It is this spreading disease that brings the two together. McGregor is there for Green when she has her crazy depressed bout of crying and soon has his own.
Unfortunately the plague doesn’t stop there. After a period of months another wave hits and slowly but surely throughout the film every single one of humanities senses is stripped away.
It’s a hell of a ticking clock for this relationship and probably the only scenario that would force a level of maturity into this pairing strong enough to make their relationship work.
Sure, it doesn’t hurt that director David Mackenzie cast two of the prettiest people in the business, but the real appeal of the romance is how McGregor and Green play these two people, almost like lost souls that find each other just in time.
It’s a touching romance against the backdrop of pandemonium. The reality of the sci-fi elements is mirrored by the flawed reality of human love. While on the surface level this film comes across as a fairly pessimistic take on love and human nature I found the dark finale actually painted a positive light on humans as a species.
The flick is filmed like a romantic drama, it’s taken as seriously as any character drama in tone, photography and pacing, but there’s always the backdrop of humanity’s undoing that makes for a unique movie-going experience.
While the film isn’t perfect (there’s a moment that splits Green and McGregor that works as a dramatic device, but doesn’t feel real or earned), it’s so earnest and so well made that any minor bump in the road is easily overlooked. Very much recommend this one.