Doomsday thrillers have long been the lucrative domain of Hollywood, and with Roland Emmerich seeming to have perfected a corner on that market, with The Day After Tomorrow, 2012 and Independence Day. Though Will Smith has a bit of his own thematic obsession tackling planetary survival, in both Independence Day and I Am Legend.
But with some sort of odd trickle down principle at work, apocalyptic reflections as in the latest glum entry Perfect Sense, have been embraced by indie directors too. Even if weighted down with the baggage of a very different set of preoccupations.
And with those 2012 end of the world prophesies additionally at hand, these films are already slipping into theaters at the start of this year, in a moodier trend that may have been unleashed recently by Danish director Lars von Trier’s indulgent sulking sisterhood, in Melancholia. And currently, along with UK director David Mackenzie’s Perfect Sense, The Divide, the more conventional Beneath The Darkness, and Abel Ferrara’s upcoming freaky dysfunctional family cyberspace sendoff, 444: Last Days On Earth.
As for Mackenzie’s gloomfest offering, Ewan McGregor and Eva Green, two actors who share a fondness for frontal nudity in movies, sex up the apocalypse, so to speak, in Perfect Sense. Green is Susan, a Glasgow scientist specializing in epidemics, who is stumped by a new world plague characterized by a progressive loss of the human senses of taste, hearing, smell and sight. Touch for some reason seems to have been spared, though possibly for good reason. In effect avoiding disappointing even more than the end of the world, audiences eager to spot those two frisky lovebirds frolicking in the buff.
And while Susan is preoccupied fretting about the mysteriously spreading epidemic, Michael, head carefree chef at the restaurant downstairs, makes persistent moves on the temperamental egghead. When not cooking up dinners for the dwindling customers suffering from incapacitated taste buds.
And though some adapt as best they can to the rapidly diminishing quality of life, many more respond by going berserk in droves, in some cases cultivating pathological eating habits like wolfing down lipstick and shaving cream. Eventually Susan and Ewan succumb to the epidemic as well, an aesthetically contrived catastrophic course of events conveyed more in personal terms than anything else, as the world crumbles all around them.
There’s nothing wrong with pondering the meaning of life when the end of human existence on the planet is near. But there’s far too much time spent lately on screen in such cataclysmic outings, with extended, lusty last minute bedroom romps; erotic gorging on bars of soap together in the bubble bath; earnest and prolonged anxious navel gazing; or curling up in respective fetal positions as a way of responding to the global ecological and political issues at hand.
So depending upon how you prefer your doomsday drama served up – whether steeped in special effects sensationalism or on the low budget minimalist raw emotional side – Perfect Sense hardly makes any. And ends up feeling in essence, half baked.