The Green Perfume


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The Green Perfume
"What, you might ask, is at the heart of the mystery? It's a good question and one that Pariser barely articulates." | Photo: Bizibi

The likeable lead pairing of Sandrine Kiberlain and Vincent Lacoste manage to extract considerably more mileage from this comedy crime drama than Nicholas Pariser's muddled and derivative script deserves. The writer/director seems to be aiming for some sort of hybrid between an Agatha Christie whodunnit, a Hitchcock innocent abroad and a Seventies caper but in the end it reminded me of Tintin more than anything else, which given that is targeting adults, means that this mix is not a match made in heaven.

Just as well then that Lacoste and Kiberlain have a decent amount of spark - although it takes a while for Pariser to heft the plot together before they meet. Lacoste is theatre actor Martin Rémi, who, in one of many coincidences that add up to a lot of lazy plotting, spots a woman, who the camera follows, walking briskly through his theatre. What he doesn't see is the way she switches out his fellow actor's make-up leading to his death onstage but not before he's whispered the fateful words: "I've been murdered" and "Green perfume" to Martin, an exchange that is spotted by a shadowy figure in the gods.

An oddly worked slice of kidnapping follows that makes barely any sense, although perhaps fractionally more than Martin, upon being released unharmed, immediately deciding to try to track down the guy who orchestrated it. Cutting to the chase, which is something Pariser never does when he can take the long way round, this leads Martin to a bookstore and yet another implausible chance encounter with comic writer Claire Mayer, who spurred by ennui, immediately decides to help this guy in his quest.

What, you might ask, is at the heart of the mystery? It's a good question and one that Pariser barely articulates, leaving it all to hinge on a techno Macguffin called "anthracite" which Martin and Claire find themselves trying to stop falling into the wrong hands during the performance of a play in Budapest. Both characters are played with an enjoyable neuroticism by the actors but it's a struggle to believe they would become in any way romantically involved - just another element that feels included for the sake of it rather than in service of the story. As for the tale itself, it just about hangs together but it is never as mysterious or funny as Pariser seems to think it is. By far the most enjoyable element is Benjamin Esdraffo's score which stylishly signposts the shifting moods, it's just a shame neither the direction or script manages to find the same rhythm.

Reviewed on: 31 May 2022
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Crime caper sees an actor caught up in international intrigue after the death of a member of his troupe.


Cannes 2022

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