What would happen to humanity if our senses started packing in, one by one? Would society inevitably break down? Would love survive? Those are the questions facing Ewan McGregor’s cocky Glasgow chef and Eva Green’s rueful epidemiologist in David Mackenzie’s apocalyptic sci-fi fable Perfect Sense.
Smell is the first sense to go when a mystery virus strikes the planet, followed by taste and then hearing; with each loss accompanied by bizarre side effects that take the form of intense surges of emotion ranging from grief and anger to ravening hunger. Meanwhile, McGregor and Green’s mismatched characters fall in lust and then discover love as life as we know it falls apart around them.
Perfect Sense contains some interesting ideas, but the execution is muddled and sometimes unintentionally comical – as when the virus’s victims begin frenziedly chomping on raw fish, fresh flowers and anything else that comes to hand. The scene is supposed to convey helpless compulsion but simply leaves the actors looking ludicrous. Elsewhere, Mackenzie cuts away to brief montage sequences showing social breakdown in other parts of the globe, but for the most part the film’s limited budget means that the end of the world looks no more cataclysmic than a prolonged strike by Glasgow’s bin-men. Perfect Sense has its advocates, some of whom detect poignancy and profundity in the film; I found it a half-baked, embarrassing misfire.
Released on DVD & Blu-ray on Monday 30th January by Arrow Films.
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