The Perfume of the Lady in Black

The Perfume of the Lady in Black ★★★★½

Deep red, white and BLUE. When I saw Amuck last month I wrote about how I have a preference for Italian thrillers that resemble Alice in Wonderland more than Agatha Christie. Here the link is made explicit with Mimsy Farmer's character, Sylvia, quoting Lewis Carroll. Unlike Amuck, however, in which our Alice chooses to chase the rabbit down the hole, here we have the vague outline of a conspiracy that is pushing Sylvia into a confrontation with something horrific from her past. Generally, one can hope that at the very least this kind of movie will be trashy fun or a sturdy genre exercise. The direction and design of Perfume of the Lady in Black, as well as Farmer's performance, elevate it to something more akin to the arthouse thrillers of Roman Polanksi from which it seems to be cribbing a move or two. Almost every frame contains a mirror and a deeply saturated blue creating a visual and thematic unity that holds strong even as the narrative completely falls apart in the final moments (as is wont to happen in these kind of things). Just wait 'til you see that bright red blood next to one of those blues.

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