This haunting giallo/thriller is a delicate triumph of mood and paranoid psychosis. Poor Silvia is troubled: her childhood memories have become present hallucinations. A mysterious little girl has become her playmate. Her apartment neighbors seem increasingly sinister. But is Silvia’s mental breakdown occurring within a vacuum all its own…or is something altogether evil (and very real) driving her towards an inevitable insanity, towards her own death?
Beautifully crafted by director Barilli, Perfume takes some cues from Roman Polanski’s Apartment Trilogy, consistently striking a near perfect balance between Silvia’s fragile psychology and the real conspiracy around her. Farmer (on whom the whole enterprise depends) is wonderful throughout. Great score by composer Nicola Piovani! —Terrortrap.com
Francesco Barilli (Parma, February 4, 1943) is an Italian actor, director, screenwriter and painter.
Giallo or not giallo? In my humble opinion, no. Shot in the early 70's, yes! Shot by an Italian director, yes! Actors who played in famous giallos! A blonde woman not ashamed of her body, yes! Characters savagely knifed, yes! A giallo, No!. Highly recommended.
The parallels to Polanski have already been highlighted (the director himself admits his attempt to rework some of the themes of those films) and are apparent not only in terms of the plot--a traumatized woman losing grip on reality as the trauma begins to surface more and more in her daily life (*Repulsion*); an entire apartment building of acquaintances banding together to abuse and manipulate that
woman (*Rosemary's Baby*)--but also in the use of the disquieting photo that the credits play over at the beginning. The photo, showing a child staring up at her sailor-father, wearing a disturbed, distrustful look on her face, is a reworking of the photo that shows up at the end of *Repulsion* and is meant to embody the moment of sexual trauma from Catherine Deneuve's character's childhood.
Rewatching it now, I started to see parallels to *Deep Red* as well: At the beginning, when Farmer's character stuffs the toy baby in her purse, it looks very similar to the one that Argento's macrophotography highlights in *DR* (both toys being totems of the childhood trauma that drives the films). Later, when Farmer's character visits the grave of her dead mother, not only does the mother's portrait strongly resemble Carlo's mother in the flashback, but Farmer's pained and fidgety reaction to seeing it also recalls Carlo's similar demeanor. (The difference: In *Perfume* the mother character is no longer alive to keep the trauma of the past papered over in their child's life.)
Un film che deve tanto a Polanski (specialmente a Repulsion e Rosemary's Baby) e che, incredibilmente, anticipa in più di un'occasione L'inquino del terzo piano. La vicenda sembra una specie di Alice nel paese delle meraviglie (qui degli orrori!) con un finale da brividi: inquietante, crudo, maligno, che fa davvero paura. Si perde in due, tre occasioni ma poi ritrova il filo. *** e mezzo