Perfumes (Les Parfums)
Australian Cinemas now (where open; Sydney TBD)
* * *
Perfumes is an escape: charming, light, almost care-free. Most of all, it showcases the enormously appealing talents of co-leads Emmanuelle Devos and Grégory Montel. She’s been a known quantity for decades and a full-fledged movie star since the turn of the century; he’s on the rapid ascent, fulled by his popular character on Call My Agent. She plays a perfumer – a fragrance creator – whose peak days in the industry are behind her, and who currently sells her olfactory skills for commercial uses, such as disguising industrial odours. He plays the chauffeur she hires and comes to rely on. It’s not a romance – it’s more surprising and slyer than that – but it is comfortably and happily a performance vehicle; the plot is completely secondary to the delight in seeing these extremely talented screen actors share that screen, which they do throughout the movie, in cars, on trains, in hotel rooms and restaurants, and in some delightful countryside. Smells like a nice time, non?
Australian Cinemas from 29 July (where open)
* * * 1/2
Krisha was my favourite movie of 2015, and I guess it’s now old enough to have influenced younger filmmakers. Emma Seligman, Shiva Baby’s writer and director, sure is young enough to have been heavily influenced by Trey Edward Shults’ debut masterwork: she was only twenty-four when she made Shiva Baby, wearing her influences on her sleeve. Her film is the same length as Schults’ (give or take a few minutes), the soundtrack – especially the plucked strings – is incredibly similar, the pacing is comparable, and there is a climactic moment clearly harking back to the famous ‘turkey drop’ in Krisha. But Krisha was a family drama dressed in horror clothes, whereas Seligman has made a family drama draped in comedy, even as it may be as terrifying as The Shining for anyone with any hint of social anxiety.
It’s not laugh-out-loud but it’s full of very witty lines, and culturally it’s all-in: this is a truly Jewish movie, taking place in close-to-real-time at an outer-borough or upstate New York shiva (baby!). We follow Danielle (an excellent Rachel Sennott) as she encounters her best friend and occasional sexual partner, her sugar daddy occasional sexual partner, and all the assorted family and friends who need to know why she’s so thin and what she’s doing with her life. It’s a slender premise but executed with great panache, so nimble, fluid and confident that it’ll be over before you know it. Recommended indeed.