THE PERFECTION (2019) sits on the border between inventive and dumb

Netflix’s The Perfection is the result when you get Whiplash (2014), swap in a cello for the drums, make it a horror thriller, and sprinkle some messed up weird shit on top. It goes from 0 to 100, and before you know it, you’re at 1,000 and wondering how you even got to this point in the first place.

An attempted summary of this film would read; After the passing of her mother, former musical prodigy Charlotte (Allison Williams) tracks down the current musical prodigy at her school, Elizabeth (Logan Browning), and the two form a bond that has its ups and downs. It’s vague and hardly captures what you have in store, but the film doesn’t lend itself to a cohesive synopsis.

Watching The Perfection can only be described as a rollercoaster of ups and downs, the plot goes in so many directions that you’re almost certainly not going to like all of the creative choices it makes. It kicks off well, the setup of the plot is great, the introduction of the characters is well executed, and then it builds from there. The initial setup has shades of Yorgos LanthimosThe Favourite (2018) which is a nice touch. Before you know it, it starts getting dumb. Incident after incident quickly leads to this story and its characters becoming infuriating. It embraces the insanity and looks like it’s just going to go down with the ship. Then it takes a turn, a turn that doesn’t throw the story into ‘good’ territory, but saves it from its current predicament and throws it into a new one.

It only gets weirder and weirder from there as the story takes twists and turns like there is no tomorrow and you learn more about the history of the characters which wasn’t initially clear. This is where the film borders that fine line between inventive and dumb. To say this is an original idea is an understatement, it’s definitely original and goes in directions you won’t see coming. Now, twists are great, but the approach this film takes to executing and making twists known is honestly lazy and frustrating. It focuses more on the shock value than on the cohesion of the story so where it is creative it also lets itself down.

The performances though, are by far the strongest element of this film. Allison Williams and Logan Browning as the leads are both absolutely incredible. The two of them make you think you’re watching some sort of art-house film with how strongly they portray their characters. The dialogue written for them really isn’t great, so the fact that they manage to get a solid performance out of some shabby lines is remarkable actually. Williams and Browning have amazing chemistry together and take the film by storm where their scenes together are made properly enjoyable because of their presence. Veteran actor Steven Weber has a supporting presence here and he’s good. The story makes his character pretty one-note for the majority, but he still stands out.

As a little bit of a finishing touch, the movie is beautiful, this is largely after the first act, but consistently throughout it’s very well shot. The cinematography and composition of the shots is well orchestrated and gave more appreciation to some scenes later in the film.

In the end, The Perfection is a lot of things, unfortunately good isn’t necessarily one of them. I loved the performances, visually it stuns, and it’s inventive… but the story lets it down so much that I can’t quite get it up there. The turns it takes are jarring and not smoothly executed, and the majority of the first act, once the character introductions are done with, is weird, and not a good weird either. If you’re up for some shock value then this is a good one to check out, just don’t expect too much from it, and don’t give up right away if the first act isn’t grabbing you as it will change.

5.4/10

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