The Perfection (2018) ☆☆☆(3/4): Twisty and nasty

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Before watching Netflix film “The Perfection”, I read a review which advised me to avoid spoilers as much as possible, but, after watching the film, I found that one South Korean film critic recommended to watch its trailer first. While I believe you should know a bit about what this twisty and nasty thriller film is going to present, I also think you should fully enjoy some nice unexpected moments in the movie, so I strongly advise you not to read the following paragraphs, though I will be careful as much as I can while describing the story and characters to you.

At first, the movie opens with a sad, bitter situation surrounding one young woman named Charlotte (Allison Williams). As briefly shown to us via one short flashback scene, she once had a promising career ahead of her while being arduously trained as a cellist at some small but highly prestigious conservatory run by Anton (Steven Weber) and his wife Paloma (Alaina Huffman), but she gave up her training course for looking after her very ill mother, and she eventually stayed with her mother for around 10 years till her mother’s eventual death.

Shortly after her mother’s death, Charlotte approaches to Anton and Paloma, who happens to be searching for another young talented student in China. Maybe for old time’s sake, they subsequently invite Charlotte to Shanghai, and Charlotte willingly serves as one of the jury members for the final contest where the eventual winner will be sent to Anton and Paloma’s conservatory.

In the meantime, Charlotte meets Lizzie (Logan Browning), who happened to arrive at the conservatory when Charlotte was about to leave at that time. While it seems Charlotte cannot help but envious of Lizzie’s rising status, she is mostly cordial to Lizzie, and Lizzie responds with genuine enthusiasm as a girl who once worshipped Charlotte a lot before finally enrolling in Anton and Paloma’s conservatory. As these two young ladies talk and interact more with each, something mutual seems to be developed between them, and that situation eventually culminates to a feverish sequence thrillingly alternating between two different passionate moments between them.

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Once Charlotte and Lizzie become quite more intimate with each other than before, the movie takes a detour along with them. Lizzie is going to take a two-week vacation while totally free from her hectic schedule of training and performance, Charlotte does not hesitate at all when Lizzie suggests that they should travel alone together around the rural regions outside Shanghai. Neither of them speaks or reads Chinese, and they do not even consider hiring a guide for them, but Lizzie remains optimistic about their travel, even while her physical condition seems to be getting worse hour by hour for some unknown reason.

Of course, the circumstance soon becomes far worse for Charlotte and Lizzie while they are on a shabby bus along with a bunch of local passengers. Not long after the bus leaves Shanghai, Lizzie gets a lot sicker than before, and there is a tense and morbid moment when Charlotte urgently tries to persuade a rather hostile bus driver to stop the bus while Lizzie not only vomits but also is in a desperate need of relieving her bowels. Is it possible that Lizzie contracted some highly infectious disease currently raging in a rural area to which she went a few days ago?

I will not give you any hint which may spoil your entertainment, but I can tell you instead that Lizzie and Charlotte later find themselves stranded alone in the middle of a remote rural area. Charlotte tries to help Lizzie as much as possible, but Lizzie’s physical condition keeps getting deteriorated, and then there comes a grisly moment which will surely catch you off guard with a sudden suspicion dawning upon you.

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After that narrative point, the screenplay by director Richard Shepard and his co-writers Nicole Snyder and Eric C. Charmelo takes a series of disturbing plot turns, which are executed well with considerable style and skill under Shepard’s competent direction. Although we come to observe its story and characters from the distance as the movie continues to throw shocks and surprises into its increasingly lurid thriller tale, we also become curious about how much it will go further, and the movie do not disappoint us at all with a number of gut-wrenching moments to strike us hard.

It helps that the movie is equipped with several strong elements including the two good lead performances. While Allison Williams aptly handles several tricky moments which require some subtle touches to look back on, Logan Browning has a lot of fun during her own juicy moments, and their solid duo performance is the main reason why the last scene of the movie is packed with considerable dramatic impact. In case of a few supporting performers surrounding Williams and Browning, Steven Weber and Alaina Huffman are effective in their respective roles, and Weber did a good job of conveying to us his character’s cold-hearted side while maintaining well his benign façade.

Although it is definitely uncomfortable to watch for good reasons, “The Perfection” is still morbidly compelling on the whole while working as much as intended. I only had a vague idea of what I should expect from it, so I had a fair share of naughty fun with it, and I think you will be entertained as much as I was, if you still do not know what it exactly is about and are ready for anything.

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