Eddie Alcazar and Executive Producer Steven Soderbergh are bringing a new, trippy, science fiction thriller to your eyeballs this Summer. While it seems to have a lot to say, it also seems determined to keep you in the dark for all of it. Come inside to read my full review!
Ostensibly, Perfect's concept is fairly simple. The character (played by Garrett Wareing), who isn’t ever actually named, is sent off to some sort of rehab center after brutally killing his girlfriend. The whole point of the facility he’s in is about finding perfection and he and the others have the ability to enhance themselves through literal plug-ins.
They take out pieces of themselves and replace them with this other technology that is supposed to alter their minds and bodies. The idea, specifically for him, is to excise his more monstrous tendencies. The overall goal of the facility seems to be about attaining perfection...and maybe something to do with Aliens? Maybe? I don’t know, there’s a lot of stuff that isn’t clear in this movie.
While the idea presents itself as something basic, that’s far from the case. Over the film’s 80 minutes of footage, I found myself struggling to figure out just what the Hell was going on most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love Sci-Fi films that force you to think; giving you the bare minimum of information and making you put the pieces together (Annihilation and Arrival come to mind).
What Perfect chooses to do, however, only leads to frustration. Instead of making a coherent point, Perfect instead utilizes a series of abstract sequences/filmmaking to try and seem smarter than it really is. The psychedelic imagery, overlaid constantly by varying voiceovers jumps from one idea to another, almost like a string of artsy student films slapped together. The result is as incoherent as it sounds and only serves to highlight the film’s biggest problem: it’s playing at being smart, rather than actually being smart.
It’s all the more frustrating considering it has some interesting themes worth exploring. The primary idea of the story is the idea that perfection isn’t truly attainable. Moreso, you can’t truly improve yourself, or resolve deeper problems, superficially. Change requires internal work, self-reflection, and a willingness to do so.
The main character has some SERIOUS issues, having brutally killed his girlfriend. Throughout, it’s made clear that he struggles to resist these bloody urges and turns to the cybernetic-esque enhancements to change himself. Things only continue to get worse as he continues to ignore the root causes of the problem, let alone look for any kind of consequences.
It’s an interesting theme with plenty of story potential and manages to bring in some solid cinematography and neat trippy visuals...But the film doesn’t make good use of them. Instead, they’re so preoccupied with making the film seem auteur and smarter than you (the viewer) that all the good elements are utterly buried.
It’s not a long film, like I mentioned, but it still feels like a slog to get through. This is compounded by a number of scenes that don’t seem to have any real connection to the overall story. Rather than give context to the character or overall theme, they seem thrown in there to pad out time. At times it almost feels as though this was a fairly solid short film that was unnecessarily dragged out to feature length.