I just watched this movie, and unfortunately, I thought it unraveled into something completely incomprehensible in the last half hour or so ... it was much more entertaining before they took the mystical element too far, let's just say. Up to the point, while I had some quibbles, the pacing of the suspense and foreshadowing, the historical detail, and the fascinating information about the invention of perfumes, was pitch-perfect. In particular ...
It's a risky idea, making a movie focused on scent in a medium that cannot directly convey the sense of smell, but Perfume makes the concept meaningful with close cameras angles, enhanced visuals and sounds, and a frame narration that prepares the viewer to be launched into a world where scent is all.
This is helped along by the initial use of elements where smell is closely connected to the "idea" of the item: grass and coffee beans are two that stand out as I think back. Maybe, as well, by the fact that the main character doesn't speak at all for the first forty minutes of the movie - his world is not an auditory one, and "shutting down" that sense makes room for others.
Perfume continues to build on the element of scent and its vital essence. If it doesn't quite achieve synesthesia, it comes almost as close as I can imagine film ever doing. Alas, the creepiness that is also built slowly throughout the film is destroyed by the ... plain weird of aforementioned last thirty minutes.
Still, there's an interesting assumption underneath it all ... do people really have scents of their own, or are they merely a combination of what they encounter?