Susan is a scientist who knows she shouldn’t smoke but does. Michael is a chef who cleans the fish smell from his hands with lemon and isn’t afraid to bum a smoke once in a while. The two meet, and begin to fall in love as if they’re two characters in a movie compelled to do so (which, come to think of it, they are). The catch: a new epidemic is sweeping through hospitals. After a sudden temper tantrum, often prompted by a wall of grief and loss, the victim loses one of their senses. The first wave loses their sense of smell.
So this is the world in which Susan (Eva Green) and Michael (Ewan McGregor) are struggling to find love. With every new sense lost, countries are increasingly chaotic and governments are just barely holding on. People aren’t really eating in restaurants anymore, so Michael’s work dries up (how do you cook without smell? how do you enjoy eating?) just as Susan’s is put to the test: she’s at the forefront of research into this epidemic, and her voice-overs provide some insight. Don’t worry, though, you don’t need smell to repent. It’s never too late for that.
Anyway, an epidemic is not an obvious setting for a love story, and I’ve possibly never been so fully turned off than watching an orgy of gluttony that was remarkably non-discerning. Perfect Sense is no Love in the Time of Cholera. It doesn’t succeed in being any big character study, or any great romance, but it doesn’t quite reach for the bigger picture either, though the pieces are all there. On balance I’d say this is still worth a watch – there are a couple of astonishing scenes, and for me at least it forced a few of those powerful What If questions without which life would be less sweet.