Tom Tykwer is not a favorite — I liked Run Lola Run well enough on a single viewing, but watching it a second time was an exercise in diminishing returns, and I had little use for The Princess and the Warrior. So I had written this project off long ago, despite the fact that the novel by Patrick Süskind is among my very favorite books. What a surprise, then, in the opening reel. The Dogville-inspired flashbacks characterized by the (re)use of John Hurt as a sardonic narrator were a little disorienting, but what was up on screen was a rich and putrid vision of 18th Century France, resplendent in colorful detail and redolent with the kind of grunge you’d expect to see slathered across the set dressing in a Monty Python movie. You could almost — yes — smell it.

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