In Netflix-acquired curio The Perfection, confusion reigns. As viewers, we’re wrongfooted both by the film’s twisting plot and its genre, oscillating between body horror, psychological thriller and a drama about mental health. There’s a rare unpredictability that initially proves alluring, at least until that confusion starts to feel less intentional.
3 out of 5 stars.
Film - Indefinability - Plot - Fashion - Forth
The film’s indefinability is admirable while also frustrating, the plot leaping around in a rather graceless fashion, spinning back, forth and sideways with ambition but not always success. As a child, Charlotte (Allison Williams of Girls) was a master cellist but when her mother fell ill, she was forced to leave a prestigious academy to take care of her. Years later, when her mother dies, she returns to the scene, painfully aware of the price she has paid for her absence. Her position in the academy, and more broadly in the world of classical music, has been taken over by star pupil Lizzie (Logan Browning of Dear White People) and the two meet during a concert in Shanghai, a crackling combination of jealousy and sexual tension in the air.
To go into much more detail about what happens to the pair would be doing a disservice to the script’s many left-turns, some of which are easier to predict than others. A crude comparison would be Black Swan, another film about a dangerous relationship between two competitive young women trying to succeed within a specific and ruthless artistic world. But while that film boasted Darren Aronofsky’s outrageous yet precise aesthetic, The Perfection has the Dom Hemingway director Richard Shepard at the helm, a less assured film-maker who can’t quite match the script’s stabs at wild perversity. It feels flat when it should be leaping off the screen, looking and sounding like a low-budget TV movie complete with uninspired...
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