You will be left thinking: WTF DID I JUST WATCH?!
First shown at last year's Fantastic Fest, The Perfection is about Charlotte (played by Allison Williams), a musical prodigy, who returns to her former school, the Bachoff Academy, and meets with Elizabeth (Logan Browning), the school's new star pupil. What started as a simple trip into the rural areas of China, will lead the two of them down a shocking end.
Here be spoilers…
What we like
There are turns that I didn't see coming and anything that surprises me is usually a good thing. I can't go into specifics of the movie as that would spoil it as the crux of the movie are its twists. So, I apologise for the vagueness for the following:
- Allison Williams brings a great vulnerability to her character, one who is reeling from exchanging one trauma for another (looking after her ailing mother).
- The soundtrack works with the movie, with pieces that dovetail into the narrative turns LIke the sonata that the younger Charlotte (Molly Grace) plays, its fast musical rhythms that suddenly shirts into a soaring moment, it is a taxing piece for the player, especially when it comes with consequences.
- There are moments where I didn't quite believe what I was seeing was actually happening. The director, Richard Shepard, took influences from Park Chan-wook's work and that shows.
- The scene on the bus is a moment in suspense and dread that slowly ratchets up to… well, the act's inevitable ending. Logan Browning is great at playing hysterical and it still freaks me out even when I'm playing it back in my mind.
What we didn't like
The cello playing didn't really do it for me. Sure, they are actors who have trained for it but while they nailed the hand motions, you can still tell that their actions were just perfunctory. There's no soul to the playing.
When you strip away the intrigue and grotesque, you're left with a commentary of the #metoo movement but I'm unsure whether a revenge scenario. Because at the end of the movie, Lizzie and Charlotte finally achieved the titular 'perfection' but only that it's due to their past traumas.
If this seems familiar, remember the conversation between Sandor 'the Hound' Clegane and Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones, about how he tells her, “you’ve changed, little bird. None of it would have happened if you’d left King’s Landing with me." And she replies that without these terrible things—the rapes, the abuse—she would have stayed "a little bird all [her] life", that she's a better and stronger person because of the trauma. Y'know, what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger, goes the maxim.
It has become a trope that a woman's sexual trauma is a teaching tool, that the violation is needed to attain autonomy.
Also, I'm not sure if Charlotte's plan was actually feasible. I mean, the more that I think about it, I could pick out certain areas that it could have gone wrong.
What to look out for
Uh, just keep your eyes open for EVERYTHING. I mean, you'd want to shut your eyes at certain scenes but keep them open.
The Perfection is now out on Netflix.