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Fantastic Fest 2018: THE PERFECTION Review – A Stylish, Well-Acted Misstep

Starring Allison Williams, Logan Browning, Steven Weber

Written by Richard Shepard, Eric C. Charmelo, Nicole Snyder

Directed by Richard Shepard


Have you ever watched a movie where so much went right but just as much went wrong? That’s precisely the feeling I got when I walked out of The Perfection, which stars Get Out‘s Allison Williams and Dear White People‘s Logan Browning. What could’ve been a wildly effective thriller ends up being unbelievable and messy.

The film follows Charlotte (Williams), a former child prodigy cellist who, after a decade, returns to the people that helped train and groom her into the powerhouse sensation she once was. However, another woman, Elizabeth (Browning), has taken her place and jealousy rears its ugly head fast. However, things aren’t always what they seem and this story twists and turns to a rather disturbing coda.

There’s no denying that both Allison Williams and Logan Browning are absolute powerhouses with their performances. Williams plays much of the role within, keeping her emotions as much on the inside as possible but little cracks in the veneer allow audiences to gather precisely what’s going on. Meanwhile, Browning is the opposite, her emotions splashing across the screen with fervent intensity. Weber, who plays cello master Anton, is just as charming as he is malevolent and dismissive.

Gorgeous cinematography by Vanja Cernjul (Crazy Rich Asians, Wristcutters: A Love Story) mirrors the luxury of the story and uses each set to its fullest extense while Shepard directs the hell out of everyone and every scene.

Ahead is where I will be venturing into spoiler territory, so please read on at your own caution.

Where the film falters is in its narrative approach and its leaps in logic. Broken into multiple segments, the film aims for style over substance, opting to create exciting stories that don’t hold up to any scrutiny. Towards the second half, the film switches from a Black Swan-esque jealousy tale to one of rape-revenge. While not unpredictable, it was a shame that such an obvious path was taken. Furthermore, the evil-ness of Anton and his cronies cannot be denied but Charlotte’s methods to try and save Elizabeth are just as awful and manipulative.

There’s also a wildly unnecessary sex scene between Elizabeth and Charlotte that occurs hours after they meet. While there’s nothing wrong with a whirlwind romantic tryst, these two go from 0 to 100 in record time. I was honestly surprised that they weren’t exchanging vows by lunch the following morning.

Ending with shades of American Mary, The Perfection has a lot going for it but it’s equally flawed in ways that make it difficult to accept. For as much as I cheered and loved what was unfolding, I found myself rolling my eyes at the abyss-like plot holes.

  • The Perfection
2.5

Summary

Oozing with style and bolstered by genuinely phenomenal performances, The Perfection is certainly going to be a divisive film. You’ll either love how full-on bonkers they go or you’ll wish they’d kept such a challenging and personal theme closer to the chest.

Written by Jonathan Barkan

Lifelong horror fan with a love of music on the side.

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