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Review: The Perfection

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A blood and vomit duet

Charlotte (Allison Williams), is a once cello prodigy who had to leave the possibility of fame and fortune behind when her mother fell ill, and she now returns to the school a decade later and meets a new prodigy, Lizzie (Logan Browning) whose music puts people “as close to god” as you can get while alive. While judging a cello competition, the two form an attraction and bond. And that's where I'll stop.

If you really want to feel the magic The Perfection has to offer, it's best to head blind.

The Perfection
Director: Richard Shepard

Rating: NR
Release Date: May 24, 2019 (Netflix)

Taken by its individual moments, its setpieces of kink, gross, discomfort, and pain, The Perfection is a fever dream of surreal scenes that blend the erotic, disgusting, and horrific. For the first twenty minutes, from Charlotte and Lizzie's first conversation concerning the parents of two cello students, I was enthralled by how unconventionally explicit and unmoored The Perfection seems to be. The two escape to China, and Lizzie gets sick, which leads to a painful sequence where Charlotte tries to convince the non-English-speaking driver of the bus to pull over while Lizzie screams and spews in the background. It's one bad dream that feels like it'll never end, but then just as it hits its crescendo, the film rewinds and a lot of my interest reels back with it.

Using hallucinations or dreams to play with truly weird ideas without committing to them is a pet peeve of mine. It deflates my enthusiasm and sets the boundaries for the film, suggesting no moment could ever become that strange with the film actually meaning it. The Perfection does something like this twice. Both times it undermines the climaxes of its biggest horror moments, and both times the twists and explanations it offers feel like toes in the water against the cannonball we were about to experience. The twists also have that dime-store thriller quality where if you look too closely you'll see the myriad plotholes and conveniences that would need to facilitate such a turn of events. This isn't to say the plot would be without holes and problems if the twists hadn't happened. It just gets harder to ignore them, when the film sets these as the answers that are supposed to make sense of everything.

If you relax and take The Perfection for the moment-to-moment ride that it's meant to be, there's plenty of twisted fun to have along the way. Its grappling of feminist themes is by no means subtle, but its ideas still strike and resonate. The idea that men set women to an impossible standard only to revel in their failure, and the added layers aimed at the priests and the church are strong and not lost in the bug-infested-vomit of a chunky mess the movie itself is.

From its shooting, to its plot, to its soundtrack, The Perfection is crazy inconsistent. At times haunting and beautiful, at others a Monday-afternoon soap opera, it's best experienced when you just sit back and don't think too closely on how all the pieces fit. Its message is necessary, and its ending creates a powerful shot, but the plot could have reached these points without rolling back multiple times as if afraid to wade at the deep end and truly become just as wild and uninhibited as it seems to want to be.

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The Perfection reviewed by Kyle Yadlosky

6.5

ALL RIGHT

Slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy it a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.
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Kyle Yadlosky
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Also on Flixist: The Perfection   (1)   From our database:

  • Trailer for The Perfection has screaming, blood, bugs, and puke, so I'm sold - Kyle Yadlosky
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