Le Parfum d'Yvonne (Yvonne's Perfume) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Le Parfum d'Yvonne (Yvonne's Perfume) Reviews

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July 29, 2012
I love films by Patrice Leconte.
November 26, 2011
Pretentious love story with extremely unlikable characters. This is basically the story of a relationship where the two lovers connect on a strictly physical level;
it seems that anything more meaningful only disrupts the relationship and leads to the inexorable breakup. I didn't care for the superiority complex of the main characters nor I understood the character of the doctor. I kept watching in case any answers come up but only one question appeared in my head: "What was the point of this film?"
August 15, 2010
Following director Laconte's trail led here, to this intriguing tale of two summer lovers, wrapped in luminous cinematography, generously filled with gorgeous soft-erotica, set against a 1950s provincial Swiss lake-resort town where Bourgeois idle away within their closed, elegant world.

Aspiration to acceptance into such aristocratic circles drives the pretensions of the three main characters, each disguising a baser background. Girardot, avoiding poverty and French conscription, lives frugally in a boarding house but mingles elsewhere as a monied Russian Count.

He's instantly smitten when snapped right up by the utterly mesmerizing Yvonne (Majani). Looking well-bred, she's truly a woman kept -by an elderly man of means (Marielle) who, though gay, is fully enamored by her.

As with many quality French films, subtle acting here is the slow reveal. Majani's skills in seduction let Marielle put behind him the homosexuality he despises in himself. Seeing Majani toting Girardot as replacement SugarDaddy, Marielle curses her for it (via double-entendre) and sets upon self-destructive behaviors, insulting the gays and Bourgeois who would be his sad future without her. Yet age-wise Marielle knows to cherish his waning moments with Majani - and to mentor Girardot, far too inexperienced to comprehend the ruin an obsession with Majani may bring.

There's many purposely unanswered mysteries about the trio's pasts, but the more intriguing mysteries here are what true emotions Majani feels now - and what future awaits emotionally-enslaved Marielle and Girardot, who can know only the scent that lingers of this woman, but not truly know the woman herself.

Yet another mystery is that, in real life, the here-captivating Majani disappeared from public view; Googling reveals nothing factual of her, except this role.

Superlative transfer quality of outstanding, almost dream-like, cinematography and set-pieces throughout.

RECOMMENDATION: Intelligent, sexy, emotional, lush-viewing. As such, well recommended.
½ March 4, 2010
Very atmospheric chronicle of three people lazying around the elegant french Riviera at the end of the 50's. The art direction is so sumptous that it feels like a 1900 set and like in most of Leconte movies, everything is never as normal as it seems...
Super Reviewer
May 22, 2009
A beautiful, sensuous film about a summer of love between two people who are not what they pretend to be. Yvonne (Sandra Majani) and Victor (Hippolyte Giradot) are two beautiful young people who meet and fall in love. He poses as a Russian Count and she is an aspiring actress. The cinematography is breath-taking, the scenery is magnificent, the actors beautiful, the love scenes tender and romantic. The story, however, is a bit muddled. Why he pretends to be someone else is never explained (except in the film's synopsis). Why she responds as she does when he proposes to make her dream come true, why the shocking turn of events at the end when Victor returns to Geneva and reunites with Rene (Jean-Pierre Marielle) are never properly explained. As one who is not a francophone, one must assume that some things were left untranslated, or else the connecting scenes were edited out. The way the scenes cut back and forth between the present and the reminiscences of that summer was also a bit disconcerting. Victor may be older, but not by much. In spite of these flaws, a superb film that kept this viewer enthralled. As a whole, a rewarding, if somewhat confusing, film. Four stars.
March 10, 2009
Director Patrice Leconte used to illustrate comics and draw cartoon strips; he brings to his filmmaking an ability to subtly tease reality into fantasy, to take naturalistic settings and situations and transform them by creating an intoxicating atmosphere in which their ridiculous, sensuous, or enigmatic dimensions come to the fore. It is typical Leconte, therefore, that he should make a film about something as visually elusive and ephemeral as scent. The film is not, of course, about perfume ... but.

Based on a novel by Patrick Modiano ('Villa Triste'), "Le Parfum D'Yvonne" describes a summer affair between Victor (Hippolyte Giradot) and Yvonne (Sandra Majani). It is 1958, France is embroiled in a civil war in Algeria, the fighting, terrorism and political turmoil spilling across the Mediterranean into Francophone Europe. Victor - who poses as an émigré Russian aristocrat - is hiding in Switzerland to avoid conscription into the French army. He idles away the summer on the shores of Lake Geneva, renting a room in an elegant little hotel, spending his days hanging around the lounge of a more illustrious one. His entire life seems to be contained in a trunk full of film magazines.

Into his life comes the beautiful Yvonne. Her roots are hardly aristocratic, though she poses as a sophisticated young woman, aping the style of an English debutante while dreaming of a life as a film actress. She and Victor begin an affair.

Their time together, however, is moderated, invigorated, and fuelled by the outrageously camp Dr. Meinthe (Jean-Pierre Marielle), a lotus-eater who seems to provide some illicit medical services for one of the many sides in the Algerian conflict. He idles his life in dining out and posing.

It is beautifully filmed. Leconte has an almost voyeuristic style, observing the life of his characters. He plays with the elegance and style of the situation and exploits its erotic potential to the full. The characters are fundamentally bored and boring, seeking excitement and escape from the ennui into which they have subsided. Leconte exposes bodies, but the characters remain shrouded. If Yvonne's fragrance is elusive and ephemeral, so too is the past ... and future ... of her lover.

This is a visually intoxicating film, and Sandra Majani is delightful to look at. You do, however, feel that it has less substance than a hint of perfume. Enigmatic, erotic, entertaining, absorbing, yet it is not amongst Leconte's best. It lacks something, some quality to make the fragile narrative gel and take substance. The subtlety of the perfume remains just too diluted.

The DVD offers no extras - no background or interviews with actors or director, but then Leconte does not appear to be renowned for his interest in interviews or providing extras. Given the distance in time, some sort of background on the Algerian conflict might help viewers, particularly in English-speaking countries (or non-French-speaking ones). But visual and sound quality are excellent and the film is a joy to watch.
November 13, 2008
Really boring little pretentious film about a really boring little pretentious bitch and her camp 'daddy'. Leconte does another Mr Hire train-platform ending. The sex was awful. The characters dead. The story just stopped. Yawn. Horrible.
October 26, 2007
Simple minded? I love beauty anyway.
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