If you are a regular listener of our main show and checked out our review of Paddleton (which, if you haven’t yet you really should) you would have heard our discussion about Disney slowly gobbling up everything into its hideous, all-powerful mass and how that is forcing platforms like Netflix and Hulu to start creating their original content since a lot of what is currently on their platforms will be gone once Disney launches their own streaming service later this year. Paddleton, if you recall, is one such Netflix original that was well received by all of us and is currently in my top 3 movies of the year so far. Enter The Pefection, another Netflix original released this year that was creating quite a buzz due to the alleged brutality and graphic imagery surrounding the movie’s plot. Naturally, since I’m always on the look out for new horror movies I had to give this one a go. Let’s dive in and as always, spoilers ahead.
The Perfection is the 2019 brainchild of director/producer/writer Richard Shepard, also known for directing The Matador and Oxygen. For being a Netflix original, I was surprised to see this movie sitting at a 74% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Starring Allison Williams (Get Out), Logan Browning (Dear White People), and Steven Weber (Reefer Madness), The Perfection is a story about two young cellists who break free from their instructor’s cycle of abuse and manipulation. I am getting a bit ahead of myself though, because there’s a lot that leads up to this. Let’s rewind, shall we?
Our movie opens with Charlotte (Williams) who, after having spent years taking care of her sick mother decides to contact her old cello instructor Anton (Weber) after her mother’s passing. Arriving in China, Anton introduces her to his current star pupil Lizzie (Browning) at a competition to choose the next star pupil to study at his prestigious academy. Charlotte and Lizzie immediately hit it off and have a real connection, resulting in a night of passion. For it to not feel like a one-night stand, Lizzie asks Charlotte to accompany her on her two-week vacation and Charlotte agrees. They catch a bus and during the bus ride Lizzie starts to not feel well and begins vomiting, fearing that she may have contracted some new contagion that has been spreading through China. After being kicked off the bus, Lizzie and Charlotte being walking to the nearest town to seek medical attention. At this point Lizzie, who has been continuously vomiting, has insects bursting out from under her skin. As she’s freaking out Charlotte pulls out a cleaver from her bag and coaxes Lizzie to cut off her own hand meaning that she can never play cello again.
Woah, that got pretty messed up. That’s a huge twist in the story since up to this point Charlotte had been caring for Lizzie and trying to help. The movie then rewinds to show that Charlotte had drugged Lizzie with a hallucinogen and incepted the idea of bugs in her mind to make her think that there were insects under her skin. At this point, anybody who had previously seen Get Out, myself included, was ready to write Charlotte off as the villain of the movie but NOT SO FAST! We’ve got more twists and turns on the way.
Lizzie gets found on the side of the road and treated, and once she’s back in the states she returns to the academy only to find out that now that she can no longer play the cello, she is no longer welcome at the academy. In a classic revenge story move, Lizzie tracks down Charlotte in her home and attacks her, bringing her back to the academy in the hopes of getting back in Anton’s good graces. It is at this point in the movie we learn that Charlotte was actually trying to help Lizzie by making her useless to Anton, as it is revealed that Anton had been sexually abusive to both Charlotte and Lizzie when they were children at the academy as evidenced by the tattoos they both have on their back. I feel like this just got really dark, so here’s a picture of a kitten to lighten the mood.
So now Charlotte is chained up in the academy and is forced to perform, with Anton telling her that if she messes up, the newest student will be “punished” in her place (if you haven’t guessed, punished means raped.) Charlotte performs and does indeed mess up but thankfully the new student is taken upstairs and spared from what is about to happen. Lizzie, who seems even more brainwashed than ever, declares that she’s going to “go first” and it looks like things are going to EVEN DARKER, when suddenly the two other guys who were in the room collapse, apparently dead. The movie rewinds again and we learn that Charlotte had managed to get through to Lizzie and help her see what was really happening and they were both in on this plan to get Charlotte into the academy where they could exact their revenge on Anton. During the final confrontation Anton badly injures Charlotte, who loses her arm in the process, but together Lizzie and Charlotte manage to overpower him. The movie ends with Anton, having had both his arms and legs cut off, sitting in a chair as Lizzie and Charlotte play the same cello, complimenting each of their lost limbs.
So now that I’ve explained the story, let’s break down what I thought of the movie. Starting with acting, I thought all of the performances were very good. Williams and Browning had a very believable relationship, whether we thought they were friends, lovers, or enemies their interactions felt intimate and real. Also, big props to the both of them for learning the cello specifically for this movie. The twist painting Williams as the villain was almost groan worthy as we had just seen that performance in Get Out, so I really appreciated the double twist of having the villain actually be Anton. Another thing that I normally wouldn’t like in a movie but that manages to work well for The Perfection is the rewind. In cases like Vantage Point it feels like a gimmick and overstays its welcome rather quickly, but they only rewind twice in this movie and each time we learn more about the characters instead of just reliving the same events from a different perspective. Since I’ve already seemed to move on to the topic of directing, I loved the way this movie was filmed. There are a lot of deep focus shots that keep the foreground and the background in focus which not only looks cool, but also lends to the story-telling elements of individual scenes.
Overall, I really liked The Perfection and, spoiler alert, there might be two Netflix originals in my top 5 movies of 2019. It’s a short watch at only an hour and a half so if you haven’t seen it then first of all, sorry for spoiling the entire movie but more importantly, I highly recommend that you watch this movie. If you have seen The Perfection, I would love to know what you thought about it. Leave me a comment down below with your thoughts!