PERFECT SENSE. Science fiction love story

And that’s a great idea – analyzing how a person copes step by step with the gradual loss of senses.

Karolina Chymkowska

16 November 2023

PERFECT SENSE. Science fiction love story

They tell us that it’s basically simple. We perceive the world through our senses – agreed. Senses are the first barrier through which we filter and catalog our experiences. The fewer we have, the more vulnerable we become. Taught to perceive the world through the prism of scents, categorizing memories – the smell of grass, the scent of a cigar, the smell of shaving lotion – cut off from them, we lose particles of our own memory and, consequently, a part of ourselves.

But we try to survive and continue to feel. If not through smell, then perhaps through taste. If not taste, then maybe through sight. If not sight, then perhaps through hearing. The necessity of cataloging and perceiving the world seems so overwhelming that its deprivation is a tragedy, a world-scale drama, a catastrophe. It is enough to question humanity in Perfect Sense, introduce chaos, and send groups of desperate vandals into the streets.

perfect sense Ewan McGregor Eva Green

And that’s a great idea – analyzing how a person copes step by step with the gradual loss of senses. How one tries to replace one with another, how one tries to save oneself. And dealing with it is truly fascinating. What is a world devoid of smells? What is a dish you can’t taste? What is a fantastic special effect that you can’t see? How do you cope with this? How do you survive it? How do individual senses translate into emotions, their intensity, their saturation? What does smell have to do with sorrow, what does hearing have to do with painful, sincere aggression? It seems obvious – through the same channel, what is desirable and good reaches us, as well as what makes us suffer.

perfect sense Ewan McGregor

This otherwise clever and incredibly accurate analysis, however, collapses halfway through because the attempt to deduce the theory of a perfect sense is not very convincing. The perfect sense – the sense of love. A great idea for a film – more than a great idea because it is a film largely moving, gripping, whether through brilliantly shot scenes of madness preceding the loss of another sense, or through the charming, almost fairy-tale optimism of the character played by McGregor, or through the elegantly and delicately outlined feeling that arises between the pair of protagonists – in the end, colloquially speaking, it falls flat. The viewer, hitherto fascinated and even in a way convinced of the turn of events, cannot resist disappointment. What, only this much? Is this supposed to be the great theory of the perfect sense? That in the frenzy of love, we close our eyes, are deaf to the rest of the world, repressing all previous memories? That this makes sense? That this is salvation?

perfect sense Eva Green

The love that is trying to be sold to us as a cure for everything, as an ultra-durable value capable of overcoming every barrier, every loss, every step back, is, in essence, a glorification of self-limitation. Any individuality, everything that makes us independent, individual, completely self-sufficient beings – memories that disappeared with the sense of smell, experiences that were lost with hearing, accomplishments hidden in sounds – is worth sacrificing, is possible to sacrifice, is something that can simply be mourned. Should we really assume that fundamentally, another person defines us? That it is and what we feel for them? Is that fair? Is that primarily a just and complete theory? In its own way, it may be safe and invigorating, to some extent freeing from responsibility and self-determination. Yes, you could even say it’s sweet, idealistic, beautiful. But we are talking about the tragedy of the total loss of the world in the shape we knew it, and the almost pathetic (although the creators of the film seem to claim – deep and desirable) attempt to redefine this world through another person. It may be an element, yes. Even should be. But certainly not the foundation. Certainly not the remedy. And certainly not a way to show that, in any case, everything can be fine. However captivating and charming it may be, it is too simple. And largely misleading. What is worth fighting for, after all? What kind of individual would one want to be? Even in relation to another person, rather one full of, burdened with a baggage of experiences, some self-sufficiency. Identifying oneself solely and exclusively through love in the long run simply does not work. And creating an illusion of happiness from it is not honest – and that is precisely the dishonesty the creators of this film displayed.

Karolina Chymkowska

Karolina Chymkowska

In books and in movies, I love the same aspects: twists, surprises, unconventional outcomes. It's an ongoing and hopefully everlasting adventure. When I don't write, watch or read, I spend my days as a veterinary technician developing my own farm and animal shelter.

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