Don McKellar’s neglected Last Night (1998) offered an intimate view of the end of the world, dramatising Armageddon through the full spectrum of human reactions, from civilised acceptance to sexual abandon.
The same could be said of the McKellar-scripted Blindness, which, ironically, more people saw. Combining elements of both with his usual desolate eroticism, director David Mackenzie’s (Hallam Foe) latest is set in a stricken Glasgow, where a mysterious disease strips sad new lovers Eva Green and Ewan McGregor of their humanity one sense at a time.
It’s a rich contrast – the heightened emotions of falling for someone paralleled with sudden jarring losses of feeling – particularly as McGregor is a chef. “Without smell, an ocean of past images disappears,” intones the anonymous narrator.
Soon, McGregor begins serving noisy, brightly coloured food to compensate. Later, when taste disappears too, we see him and Green naked in the bath chugging shaving cream for kicks.
The message is stark: to be human is to adapt. Or, perhaps – as kids cry in sweet shops, grown men chew raw meat and martial law is declared – to be human is to always want more. It’s a film thick with melancholy.
From the desolate docks to its lonely back streets, Glasgow has never felt so austere. But there’s hope here too. McGregor and Green’s hearts may be broken but their bodies are alive; the chemistry they fire up offers the frisson of visceral, believable human connection.
True, some will find Perfect Sense pretentious – laughable, even. But even at its most unlikely, you’ll root for the duo to go the distance.
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A moving look at what it means to be human in the most extreme circumstances, this is kitchen-sink sci-fi with an aching soul.