“We didn’t want to make just another costume drama,” says writer-producer Bernd Eichinger of this long-awaited adap of Patrick Süskind’s ‘unfilmable’ novel. By that criteria, Tom Tykwer’s flick is a resounding triumph, the Run Lola Run filmmaker turning this period tale of a nasally-gifted drifter driven to murder by his quest to create the world’s most irresistible scent into a baroque, sensual experience; an arthouse Silence Of The Lambs with scrawny Layer Cake actor Ben Whishaw in the Hannibal role. The first half is especially fragrant, as Dustin Hoffman’s struggling perfumer brings a vigorous exuberance, but there’s a drop in energy once Alan Rickman takes over head-thesp duties as a concerned pa convinced virginal daughter Rachel Hurd-Wood is next on Whishaw’s hit-list.
There’s no faulting the production design that morphed modern-day Barcelona into a fetid 18th Century Paris or the mass-orgy climax that is perhaps the best instance of Tykwer’s fearless fidelity to his source. How that scene came about is covered in an exhaustive 50-minute Making Of.