Does apocalypse have to be painful? (Perfect Sense movie review)

Everyone gets the end of the world that she/he deserves. Apocalyptic movies accustomed us to the catastrophic and traumatic visions of the last minutes of the earth’s life. ‘Perfect Sense’ doesn’t break up with this tradition, but on the other hand – it’s different than typical catastrophic narrations. David Mackenzie, the director of this movie, doesn’t focus on presenting the work of destruction, but he stays close to his protagonists – his movie is not the story of the end of the world, it’s also a beautiful tale about love. Apocalypse has never been so sweet before.

The director peels his characters as they were onions. He uncovers sequent layers to check what is inside or – to be more specific – what is a molecule of a human being.  What’s important – he doesn’t make the characters naked, but more and more helpless. They slowly lose their senses – taste, hearing, eyesight – and become as awkward and pitiful as threes or objects that secretly dreams about their freedom. What’s important, the physical disability doesn’t affect their hearts. A beating heart, which is able to love, becomes a symbol and a guarantee of humanity. The director presents love as a secret power that can last longer than life or – at least – lives longer than hope.

Mackenzie doesn’t dramatize the vision of end, because his movie is not a traditional catastrophic narrative. The end here – as in Lars von Trier’s ‘Melancholy’, is a reflection of the protagonists’ existential pain. The title ‘Perfect Sense’ could be paraphrased as a love in the time of pestilence (not cholera, because the disease is mental). The world is in the throes of the epidemic of melancholy, which becomes a common experience (even simple drivers are in pain and cry for no reason).  The process of losing senses (in the beginning only smell) is parallel to the process of getting rid of illusions. Hope disappears hand by hand with the charming smell of perfumes. People become naked, but their nudity is not literal – not being able to feel/see the world around, they are alone with their thoughts and fears. In ‘Perfect Sense’ nudity is a synonym of total loneliness.

The main characters – Susan (amazing Eva Green) and Michael (very good Evan McGregor) – are also the victims of the disease. What’s more – they are more aware of the final end than other people. The director focuses on the story of their love, which makes his movie a poetic glorification of feelings. Emotions are presented as phenomenon that is more spectacular and more stable than senses/science. The director proposes a very romantic vision of love. Its blindness becomes literal, but the movie is not banal – it’s subtle and original.