Perfect Sense * * * * *
Director: David Mackenzie.
Screenplay: Kim Fupz Aakeson.
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Eva Green, Ewen Bremner, Stephen Dillane, Denis Lawson, Connie Nielson, Alastair Mackenzie, Richard Mack, Stephen McCole.
Director David MacKenzie heads back to the city of Glasgow with Ewan McGregor, after their first collaboration in 2003’s “Young Adam“. That was a gritty and powerful film but here, both of them have excelled themselves, in one of the years most criminally overlooked films.
Michael (Ewan McGregor) is a Glaswegian chef who falls for scientist Susan (Eva Green). She happens to be investigating an epidemic and as they are getting to know each other, people the world over, begin to develop some strange behaviour which leads to them losing their sensory perceptions. First, the sense of smell goes, then taste and so on…
This may be compared (with it’s apocalyptic theme) to the recent Steven Soderbergh, lethal epidemic, film “Contagion“, or more so, Fernando Meirelles’ similar “Blindness” but you’d be doing this film a disservice if you go into it with preconceived ideas based on those lethargic and jaded deliveries. This is a completely immersive human drama that packs some real power and has more in common with one of my favourite films of recent years – Alfonso Cauron’s “Children Of Men“. It has the same stark approach; the authentic feel for the frailty of our society and the same potential demise of humankind. If the end was indeed nigh, you’d expect a bit of chaos and people acting, more than a little, peeved but director Mackenzie and screenwriter Kim Fupz Aakeson never force this issue, allowing the drama to unfold at it’s own pace, with highly effective mood established by the great use of austere Glasgow locations and haunting music by Max Richter. The two leads also help by delivering believable characters with subtlety and McGregor is given a rare chance to show his range – which he delivers admirably. Fine support is also supplied around him, particularly, some slight comic-relief from his “Trainspotting” co-star Ewen Bremner. The film itself, is essentially a love story but it’s a harrowing and heartbreaking one. As the couple are getting in touch with their feelings and exploring their love for each other, they are losing their sensory perceptions one by one. It’s an intriguing premise that builds slowly and Mackenzie’s assured mirroring of the sensory perceptions waning, allow the audience to better understand how it feels, before delivering one of the most powerful and unrelenting endings of the year.
An unconventional, thoughtful and ultimately poetic, ‘end of days’ drama that deserves to find a wider audience. In a year of films dealing with the nature of our existence – “The Tree of Life“; “Melancholia” and “Another Earth“, this stands as good as, if not better. Simply magnificent.