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The power of scent is a fascination for many. Not only is perfume making an art-form in its own right, but a whiff of scent has the unique power to call forth long forgotten memories, stir up strong emotions and of course, a few drops of heavenly scent can make the wearer feel attractive, confident and put together. With these attributes in mind, a number of movies about perfume have been released over the years, all of which seek to remind viewers of the unparalleled power of fragrance and our all-important sense of smell!
Indeed, being able to smell a beautifully crafted scent is a gift many tend to take for granted, which is why we’ve put together a list of 7 scent-themed movies that are bound to rekindle anyone’s appreciation for all things scents and smells. Starting with the most recent releases and working its way back, this list of Dukes Avenue favourites features a diverse selection of fragrant films including documentary, romance and even psychological drama. Simply grab a bowl of pop-corn, get comfortable and treat yourself to a journey of scents.
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Top 7 Movies about Perfume
1. Nose (2021)
Directed by Clément Beauvais, Nose is a captivating documentary film about how some of the most iconic Dior perfumes were created. The role of “the nose” is one filled with mystery and secrets. Few ever get to know the precise ingredients of any given perfume, and perfumers are destined to be overshadowed by the larger than life brand name they work for. Indeed, many tend to completely forget about the brains – or nose – behind their favourite perfume bottle.
This one of a kind documentary provides a unique opportunity to catch a glimpse of Dior’s “Maison de Parfums” creative process. As viewers follow perfumer François Demachy on his travels around the globe, he is revealed to be a man always in search of inspiration and of course, the rarest and most expensive ingredients in the world. All in all, this documentary offers a pleasing view into the work of one of the most talented perfumers of our time.
2. Perfumes / Les Parfums (2019)
Directed by Grégory Magne, this French comedy film grants insight into the role of a perfumer, whilst providing comedic entertainment. An unadulterated celebrity in the world of perfume, perfumer Anne Walberg (Emmanuelle Devos) is a highly talented woman with an attitude problem. Selling her hypnotic scents to the best fragrance brands, Anne lives the good life and is not afraid to show off her success.
Yet, when her new driver – single father Guillaume Favre (Grégory Montel) – comes into her life, she meets her match in both wit and personality. Unafraid to speak his mind, Guillaume wastes no time pointing out Anne’s egotism and diva-like behaviour, earning him a more permanent position as her sole chauffeur. Whilst driving her across France to meet with companies needing her talents, Anne and Guillaume forge a bond based on mutual respect and trust. Taking audiences with them for the ride and effectively opening up a window into the world of perfume.
3. Love Blossoms (2017)
Hallmark can always be relied upon to deliver in the feel-good romance department. Although the focus is more on romantic intrigue and not so much on the specific art of perfume making, Love Blossoms manages to highlight the magic of scent and the significance of unique ingredients.
Following a perfumer’s death, his daughter Violet (Shantel VanSanten) must work to recreate his last, secret perfume formula in time for the great launch. With the help of Dec Granger’s (Victor Webster) superior olfactory sense they embark on a journey of fragrances and, of course, love. Using scent as its cupid’s arrow, this Hallmark movie reminds audiences of the unique power of a heavenly fragrance that is made with care and love, and provides some much needed escapism.
4. Scents and Sensibility (2011)
Inspired by Jane Austen’s beloved classic Sense and Sensibility, Hallmark produces a delightful fragrance-oriented adaptation. After their father is suddenly jailed for embezzlement – tarnishing their family name – the privileged Dashwood sisters, Elinor (Ashley Williams) and Marianne (Marla Sokoloff), are forced to get jobs and fend for themselves. When Marianne creates an intoxicating scented-lotion that people can’t seem to get enough of, their lives seem to fall back into place. With the beauty of scent as its driving force, this romantic comedy is a pleasure to watch on cosy days in and an entertaining reminder of the significance of perfume.
5. Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky (2009)
Featuring one of the most famous perfumers of all time; Coco Chanel (Anna Mouglalis), this movie follows her brief affair with celebrated composer Igor Stravinsky (Mads Mikkelsen). Both at the height of their respective careers, these two artists engage in an illicit affair at a time when Stravinsky’s wife was suffering from a deadly illness. Despite the plot not solely revolving around the subject of perfume, the movie grants access into the life of Coco Chanel before launching her iconic Chanel N°5 fragrance.
6. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)
Based on the best-selling novel by Patrick Süskind, this suspenseful movie is not one to be missed by lovers of scent and movie thrillers. Born with a superior sense of smell, Jean Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw) concocts the world’s most enticing perfumes. Yet, his search for the ultimate scent puts him on a decidedly dark path. With several gruesome murders occurring all around 18th century France, detectives must find and stop the scent-crazed culprit before he kills again.
Starring Alan Rickman, Tom Tykwer and Dustin Hoffman, this movie uses the power of scent as its inspiration and is one of nail-biting intrigue and remarkable originality. For those who are already fans of the original book and movie, take a look at the new Netflix TV series adaptation, Perfume, which puts an intriguing modern-day twist to the original story!
7. Scent of a Woman (1992)
Although this movie is not specifically about perfume, it reminds viewers of the importance of having a sense of smell. When prep school student – Charlie Simms (Chris O’Donnell) – begrudgingly takes on an assistant job to a blind and bad tempered ex-army officer – Frank Slade (Al Pacino) – he seems to have bitten off more than he could chew. Frank seems next to impossible to get along with but, the more time Charlie and Frank spend together, the stronger their bond gets. Fragrance lovers will certainly appreciate the way Frank uncannily recognises women’s scents, and will love the occasional name dropping of famous perfumes.
If you’re a lover of perfume, be sure to check out other perfume-related content published on Dukes Avenue, such as the Best Vanilla Perfumes for the autumn/fall season, as well as the Best Fruity Perfumes for the summer months.
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Christine is a woman with an eclectic range of artistic tastes. As a professional soprano with a Bachelor's Degree in Music, she carries over 15 years of experience in the classical music scene, both locally and abroad. Her passion for music is equalled by her love for literature and, more recently, Christine graduated for a second time with a BA in English.