When troubled musical prodigy Charlotte (Allison Williams) seeks out Elizabeth (Logan Browning), the new star pupil of her former school, the encounter sends both musicians down a sinister path with shocking consequences.
Tagline: It’s Time to Face the Music
Starring: Allison Williams, Logan Browning, Steven Weber
Runtime: 1 hr 30 min | Release Date: 2019-May-24 | Language: English
Triggers: Sexual violence, Trauma, Extreme Body Dismemberment
Note: Review Contains Spoilers
The Perfection Review
“This is what is expected of us.”The Perfection
A criticism of the portrayal of black people in horror has always been that their occupation or passion in films are either non-existent or stereotypical. In walks The Perfection, a 90 minute rabbit-hole of classical music, fierce ambition and a breaking of cycles of abuse.
Allison Williams and Logan Browning’s characters are both classical musicians. Logan Browning’s character is at the top of her game. Highly accomplished and acclaimed, Lizzie has dreamed of nothing other than Cello since she was a kid, and remembers her first encounter with Charlotte (Alison Williams) as their cross paths on stairs at the music academy that becomes their path to success, but also leads them into a world of unresolved trauma. This is the first symbolism that we see of the two girls (I may just do a whole article on the symbolism alone, because… SIS!) .
As Lizzie ascends and Charlotte descends, we’re set up to question why, and we find it out pretty quickly. Charlotte leaves the school to look after her mother and after she dies, gets in touch with the school’s head Tutor Anton (Steven Weber). She travels to Shanghai and after years, sees Lizzie for the second time. What I love about this is that Lizzie has become a world-renowned cellist (It reminds me of the character choice of Ganja and Hess, where the black lead is an anthropologist.) This representation is necessary. As much as things are slowly changing in the realms of horror, there’s still many black tropes and stereotypes that people lean on when making character choices.
I was fucking stoked to see lesbian representation. There’s still a lot to say about how we portray the dynamics and identities of relationships (especially showcasing masc presenting women) but the relationship in it seems to be written with some care and it doesn’t feel clunky to me. The mix of peer admiration and sexual attraction was a really smart way to create a chemistry between the two that seemed organic. There is a discussion to be had about the dynamics of white saviourism, but Logan Browning’s character is not without agency. The film portrays her, as far as I saw, as the mastermind behind the revenge on Anton and the school, so it’s a nuance that I noticed; she had to be “saved” by her white love interest, but she’s in no way hopeless. She takes charge of the situation when she’s awakened to the abuse they’ve faced, if anything.
The use of extreme body mutilation seems to be an interesting take on the physical remainders of abuse. It stays with us, whether we move on from it or not. It can trigger us at any point, just like Lizzie and Charlotte whenever they look at their arms. I think this works as a symbol for women within elitist spaces and how they’re treated. The two girls are at the peak of their talent, but still come out damaged. This seems to represent their positions as still lesser. They are symbols in a machine of abuse and false pretences, until they get their revenge, which shows us Anton in a completely mutilated state. No arms, no legs, his mouth and eyes sewn shut. He stands as the biggest symbol of hypocrisy and corruption; he is devoid of all sense and moral compass. Meat on the slab and nothing else. His only solace, at the end of this 90 minute fest of awesomeness, is his ears, to hear a duet by Lizzie and Charlotte. The way it is framed, seems to imply he’s slightly comfortable with this when he hears the music. So he could still be blind to it all.
It’s a refreshing, thoughtful and ambitious film, that I think hits everything it wants to hit and gives you even more.
But let me write another piece about the symbolism and the structure because DAAAAAAAAAMN.
Rating: 4/5 Space Krakens