- Ewan McGregor as Michael
- Eva Green as Susan
A haunting science fiction drama about two people who come together just as an epidemic begins, Perfect Sense is brooding, compelling and evocative.
In Glasgow, the happy-go-lucky Michael is a chef working in a restaurant. Living in the flat nearby is Susan, an epidemiologist who has been called in to determine the cause of a most unusual case. In the space of 24 hours and occurring around the world, many people have lost their sense of smell after experiencing outbursts of uncontrolled emotion. The case begins to baffle Susan and her fellow workers as it continues to spread. Meanwhile, Michael and Susan meet and there is an obvious attraction between the two, who begin seeing each other romantically. But the epidemic begins to get worse as another sense is robbed from people, continuing on and on without warning or knowledge. Susan and Michael’s relationship is threatened as the epidemic begins to rapidly take over and society falls into chaos around them. As the epidemic reaches a fever pitch, there is still no explanation of the cause and how it is spreading so quickly and insidiously. The question is, can anyone survive this epidemic before every sense is gone? And can Susan and Michael’s fledgling relationship continue as events get darker?
From what I’ve read when Perfect Sense was released back in 2011, it was met with somewhat ambivalent reviews. I really can’t see why this is because the movie is fascinating on so many levels. While it has elements you can attribute to the science fiction genre, there is something achingly human about it. David Mackenzie successfully delves into the themes of what happens when something we rely so much on is gone and the way something that can’t be explained can impact on society. There are no real easy answers in Perfect Sense, nor should there be as Mackenzie crafts a melancholy examination of human endurance when a situation looks dire and the sense of loss that comes along as each sense is robbed from the population. The biggest question of all is ‘If the epidemic is related to emotions, how are we as humans meant to survive?’ There is a haunted quality to Perfect Sense that is perfectly embodied by the grey cinematography. Right from the beginning, there is a feeling of unease and darkness as the muted colours and scenery are rendered into a dour picture of uncertainty and sadness. And refreshingly though there is a romantic connection between the main characters, it doesn’t feel tacked on or needless. It actually lends the movie that something else that sets it apart from other science fiction movies. The morose narration reflects on the way that we take for granted what we have and is highly evocative in scenes shown around the world as the senses are taken from the unsuspecting. A trickling music score gives quiet voice to the encroaching panic that the epidemic spawns and the implications it has for Susan and Michael.
Heading the film is the excellent work of Ewan McGregor and Eva Green. Both are at their best playing these characters who are ordinary people caught in this time of horror that we can relate to. The characters are flawed just like everyone is and the performances really let both of them show off their skills. Embodying extreme emotions with subtlety and grace, McGregor and Green are nothing short of fantastic at investing Perfect Sense with a humanity and pathos that compliments the haunting tone of the film.
A foreboding film with a definite human heart, Perfect Sense is unusual but highly intriguing viewing as it explores so many avenues of possibilities, but refuses to pander to the audience that in turn leaves a feeling of mystery.