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Perfect Sense

Year: 2011
Production Co: BBC Films
Director: David Mackenzie
Writer: Kim Fupz Aakeson
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Eva Green, Ewen Bremner, Denis Lawson, Connie Neilsen

This films sits on the top of a very special tree along with Another Earth and Never Let Me Go. It's science fiction about an idea that doesn't need any spectacle whatsoever to convey it. There's not a laser gun, high powered meeting with the President or silver-doored control room to be seen.

It's a metaphor for something – exactly what is up to you, but the final scene is strongly reminiscent of the philosophical idea that in perfect emotional unison (such as during orgasm), we literally lose all sense of our selves. But if you don't want to read anything into it you can just sink into the gorgeous music, beautiful modern love story and sumptuous visuals.

A mysterious disease is striking humanity, causing us to lose our senses one by one. Prior to each loss we're struck with an attack of extreme emotion. It starts with smell, and while a tragedy for many – especially chef Michael (McGregor, because his livelihood depends on it) – it's not the end of the world. In the midst of the crisis, he's caught the eye of pretty epidemiologist Susan (Green), whose flat is across the alley from his restaurant, and it's starting to feel like more than a fling.

Then people lose their sense of taste, immediately after a rabid attack of hunger, which turns them into virtual zombies for anything they can cram in their mouths. While his colleagues are tearing their workplace kitchen to shreds and Michael's spooning mustard into his mouth, Susan's devouring a bunch of flowers carried by a woman in an underground carpark trying to help her.

The film never loses its sheen of heartbreaking beauty even as it starts to dip into Dawn of the Dead territory. A furious bout of anger precedes the loss of hearing, and as hazmat-suited officials come to the door to hand out packets of food, the TV shows only a warning that if you're suddenly deaf, you're safest staying at home and waiting for authorities to reach you.

I can't say too much more without giving too much away, except that it's the perfect example of a strong idea, strong storytelling and the perfectly enmeshed interweaving of the two. Not just the heartbreaking, beautiful final scenes but the entire plot are the cause, embodiment and result of the love story playing out in the background, and vice versa.

Green is a great actress and plays a brilliant part – a character no less womanly because, as a doctor, she's at the coalface of the crisis but whose gender is (obviously) pivotal to the emotional tale going on.

I can't fault any aspect of this lush, haunting and stunning film. Every aspect hangs together perfectly, from the performances to the cinematography. It's what movies are supposed to be about – showing us something we'd never imagined through the prism of how we'd feel in the midst of it.

It's the first time Ewen Bremner and Ewan McGregor have been on screen for a long time and restaurant owner Denis Lawson is McGregor's uncle, none other than Wedge in Star Wars.

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