I’ve seen “Get Out,” which means I expected the worst of Allison Williams before I even hit play on Netflix’s “The Perfection.”
Williams is the girl next door. She’s friendly, ordinary and seemingly innocent, which makes her the perfect actress to pull off a character that surprises you with her insanity. I just kept waiting for the crazy to drop, and I was 90% certain it was coming.
Williams stars as Charlotte, a former cellist prodigy who had the potential for greatness but dropped out of a conservatory when her mother had a stroke. Her career is put on hold for a decade as she tends to her mother, sitting by her bedside rather than behind a cello. When her mother passes, she reaches out to Anton and Paloma (Steven Weber and Alaina Huffman), the leaders of the conservatory.
Once, Charlotte was their prized pupil, but that was a decade ago, and she’s been replaced by Lizzie (Logan Browning). The two meet and become close — extremely close. After a night of drunken fun, the two decide to do a bit of sight-seeing with each other. Lizzie doesn’t feel the greatest.
The two set off, but Lizzie’s condition continues to worsen, as she’s seemingly infected with a plague-like virus that finds itself moving toward both ends of the human body. (At this moment, I’ll say for the first time that this movie isn’t for all viewers. If you’ve got an aversion to blood, bodily fluids and violence, you might want to skip this movie and stop reading this review now.)
Worse yet, there are bugs in her sickness, seen up close and personal here. Maggots, spiders and other creepy crawlies also seem to be crawling around in Lizzie, leading her to make the ultimate sacrifice. (Well, the ultimate sacrifice for a musician. She doesn’t die, but her playing will be seriously compromised.)
I should probably stop there before I give too much away. “The Perfection” is a little difficult to describe. It’s a tale of insanity, jealousy and revenge. It’s a story of lust and obsession. Each time you think you know what’s going on, the film takes you in a completely new direction. All of a sudden the film actually rewinds (complete with sound effects that bring me back to the early days of home entertainment and VHS tapes) to a pivotal scene, and viewers see what events led up to the current moment.
Williams and Browning play off of each other beautifully. They create a duet of their own making, and it’s one of lust, passion and tension, physically, musically and emotionally. Alone, one character wouldn’t be interesting enough to carry the film, but together, Charlotte and Lizzie are fascinating to watch.
Weber, who I first discovered a very long time ago on an NBC sitcom called “Wings,” has come a long way since Brian, the man-whore who didn’t know how to say no 20 years ago. In more recent years, Weber has taken on many dramatic roles since “Wings” ended in 1997, including the lead in the ‘97 remake of “The Shining.” As Anton, Weber provides a patriarchal figure that feels a bit off, maybe even sleazy.
While I’d like to say good things about Huffman, she’s not really got much of a part. She’s Anton’s wife, and her entire character is defined as nothing but Anton’s wife. She’s a great actress, but her entire purpose in “The Perfection” is to support Anton, wear heels and sport leather pants/skirts.
“The Perfection” is a psychological thriller on every level. The marketing materials let you know that something is amiss in Charlotte and Lizzie’s relationship, but you don’t know exactly what it is. The trailer also appears to suggest something isn’t quite right with Charlotte, but you will begin to doubt yourself.
As I wrote earlier, “The Perfection” isn’t a film for the faint of heart. It’s a visceral film that pushes many buttons. Charlotte and Lizzie’s relationship ignites quickly, and it burns brightly. Lizzie’s sickness isn’t easy to watch. (Seriously, it’s coming out both ends, y’all.) Acts of violence are seen in fairly graphic detail, at least by my standards. Several other moments are sure to offend and shock viewers. If that’s not your cup of tea, move along.
For those who like their films a little darker than mainstream studios are willing to bankroll, “The Perfection” might be right for you. It’s dirty, messy moviemaking with a message, something darker but in the same vein as Brian De Palma or Adrian Lyne’s thrillers.