Sunday, 11 November 2012

All we can do is adapt while we're still here...

We watched a lot of shit TV tonight. I made my mum watch The X Factor. I'm pretty depressed and it seemed to be the right kind of thing to suit my mood. But it was too much, even for me. In fact, I think it may have snapped me out of the depths of my absolute despair by giving me the realisation that, shit as things undoubtedly are, my life is too good and too short to spend it watching various eye-bleedingly boring children churn out ear-bleedingly awful covers of superior artist's songs. A guy with the eyes of a cow, the teeth of a tramp and the musical interpretation of an accordionist did something terrible to an Adele track. And I snapped.

I gave my mum the remote and told her to go for her life. This is usually dangerous territory as it ends up with endless episodes of something called The Mentalist. Which isn't nearly as amusing as I thought it was going to be.

And we came across a film. "It's set in Glasgow or something," said ma. I saw it's called Perfect Sense. And then I saw it has Ewan McGregor in it. Sold. This is what we shall watch. I'd watch bleeding anything with him in it. Even a really tediously self indulgent series about him riding round the world with his posho chum.

Perfect Sense is a slow burning pre-apocalyptic film. And it blew my mind. It came out in 2011, the same year as Melancholia, another beautifully shot pre-apocalyptic film. These are far more terrifying than post-apocalyptic. The gathering sense of doom and dread escalates until it's almost unbearable in both films. And I've had a look at the reviews and they are similar: split between people who think the films are boring and that 'nothing happens' and people who have their minds blown apart and feel like they've genuinely watched something profound.

No prizes for guessing which way I went.

It's at its core a love story. Ewan McGregor is a chef, Eva Green is a scientist. They meet. They shag. You see Eva's tits. Eventually they start to fall in love. And while they do, a weird epidemic starts spreading around the world. A profound and intense period of grief and depression, accompanied by much wailing and gnashing of teeth, is followed by the loss of the sense of smell.

So what? I thought. That's actually not that bad. I imagined living without a sense of smell. It would be annoying, but it would be OK. I know people like that already. People adapt quickly and move on.

We follow the entire story through the eyes of Ewan and Eva, accompanied by her rather Bladerunner-esque voiceovers.

Next to go is taste, just after another intense emotional outpouring.

People adapt and move on. The relationship intensifies. As long as people have each other, there is no real cause for alarm. People go back to work. Ewan's restaurant starts to devise different kinds of dishes, based on looks and texture, rather than taste.

Weeks pass. Life, as someone keeps cropping up and saying, goes on.

As with Melancholia, where you already know the world is going to end and spend the film in almost unbearable anticipation of the moment when it happens, you can see clearly what will happen in Perfect Sense. You begin ticking senses off on your fingers. And waiting.

Next is hearing. And when the characters go deaf, you go deaf. There is complete silence for many minutes as you watch the characters desperately start to adapt to even this. After this you never hear a character speak. There is just the rather beautiful soundtrack and occasional voiceovers. Just before the deafness came intense anger, leading Ewan to be pretty beastly to Eva, leaving our lovers estranged.

And just before the sense of sight goes, an intense period of happiness floods everyone, along with the wish to reconnect with loved ones. The film's final scene is Ewan and Eva finding each other again, just as their sight fades to black. Wisely the story stops there, leaving your agitated and affected mind imagining the chaos that would ensue, with everyone in the world profoundly deaf, blind, mute, scrambling around for food, trying to adapt.

The last sense to go will be touch.

I'm glad the film stopped where it did as I'm not sure I could have handled that, outside of vague pictures in my mind.

In the same way as Melancholia it leaves loads of intense and mixed feelings, about the nature of humanity, about the adaptability of our species, about the instinct to survive and, ultimately, how we have no control over our destiny. All we can do is adapt while we're still here.

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