Now streaming on Netflix, The Perfection is a must-watch just for how absolutely insane it is.
When I saw Serenity back in January, the trash Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway psycho-sexual thriller that came out of nowhere and earned a cult status among Film Twitter, I thought, “This is it. The wildest movie of the year.” And then comes along the Netflix original film, The Perfection, almost out of nowhere, boasting a clip earlier last month that promised something crazy.
And now having watched the whole movie, it certainly delivers on its promise. The story follows cello prodigy Charlotte (Allison Williams) who retreats from the spotlight to take care of her ill mother. She eventually passes away, thrusting her back into her musical career. She journeys to Shanghai where she meets up with her old mentor Anton (Steven Weber).
Also there, she’s introduced to the new prodigy that stepped in during Charlotte’s absence: Lizzie (Logan Browning). What first appears as jealous quickly slides into romantic, sexual intrigue and seduction. The two fall for each other, revealing they’d been admirers of each other since childhood when they both studied under Anton.
And that’s honestly about as far as I’m willing to go for plot. This is a movie you have to go in completely blind and experience it fully for yourself. This movie lands into a very specific category of high end trash and borderline camp. While I would venture to look at Greta as a good comparison in terms of tone and execution, another one would be Netflix’s Velvet Buzzsaw.
The thing about The Perfection is that it really, truly only works as a Netflix movie. It only works at home with a tall glass of red wine and a group of friends who don’t know what they’re in for. Much in the way Amy Poehler’s directorial debut, Wine Country, is also a perfect get comfy on your couch Netflix movie.
Director Richard Shepard, who co-wrote the script with Eric C. Charmelo and Nicole Snyder, set up a basic premise and then twist and turn it back on itself, thwarting viewer expectations every step of the way for the movie’s brisk 90 minute runtime. And while I admit I absolutely had the time of my life watching this thing, there’s also a lot going on it that doesn’t work.
The movie basically plays out in three acts, though it’s broken into more chapters than that. The first act is creepy, crawly all-out body horror. And just when you think, “Where can it go from here?!” it takes a hard left turn and pivots into a revenge thriller. By act three, the full picture of everything that’s been going on comes into focus. The movie thinks its progressive, but it’s really anything but. It feels like early 2000s progressive.
Women exacting revenge on the men who have wronged them is always thrilling, but at this point, in the year 2019, it feels a little tired if we’re not doing something new with it. And that’s where people will disagree with me because this movie arguably does stuff radically new and, well, batshit insane. The ratcheting up to the final set piece is reminiscent of 1999’s Audition.
The Perfection is best viewed with your brain turned off. Don’t engage with the message about coping with trauma the movie thinks its dolling out or its progressive twist on a female revenge story. Take it for the shock value schlock that it is and go along for the ride. There is some artistry here and some stunning shots and clever use of split diopter that can’t be ignored.
And while Allison Williams shined as a villain in Jordan Peele’s Get Out, here the performance comes off a bit strained. Nonetheless, performance isn’t really what you came for when hitting play on The Perfection. You came to see what all the fuss is about, what all the twists are turns are going to be, and how something seemingly so pristine on the outside ends up so brutally violent and gory by its end.
The Perfection also ends on one of the most audaciously memorable final shots of any movie in recent memory. So take that for what it’s worth. Movie aside Steven Knight. Serenity walked so The Perfection could run off a cliff and kill itself. Enjoy the ride.
‘The Perfection’ is now streaming on Netflix
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