“The Green Perfume”: Nicolas Pariser tries his hand at paranoid Hitchcockian fiction


After The Great Game (2015) and Alice and the Mayor (2019), the third feature film by Nicolas Pariser attempts a perilous operation: to get French cinema aimed at the general public out of the double rut of television flatness (that of big comedies or luxury dramas) or blackmail about the carrier subject . The bet can be reformulated as a question: is it possible to reinject a little swing and elegance, the pleasure of the embellished narrative and the gratuitousness of forms into a French fiction ossified by its own sociological conventions? It is to this major task that the green perfume, by appealing for this to little-used references: the disheveled films of Alfred Hitchcock’s English career such as young and innocent (1937), A woman disappears (1938) or even the Belgian school of comics, like the Tintin of Hergé, or even Blake and Mortimer, by Edgar P. Jacobs, all considered for their tonic blend of humor and twisted intrigue. All influences capable of shaking up French Cartesianism.

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As No spring for Marnie (1964), by Hitchcock, the film opens with the silhouette of the back of an unknown woman rushing into a hotel adjoining the boxes of the Comédie-Française. Tonight we play Ivanov, and one of the actors dies on stage, not without having whispered in the ear of his colleague Martin Rémi (Vincent Lacoste) a mysterious statement: The green scent ». This name is that of a secret organization which does not take long to chase Martin, also pursued by the police as the main suspect. Brought by force to the mansion of a shadow pundit, a man named Hartz (Rüdiger Vogler), a comic book collector, then released into the wild, he teams up with an idle designer, Claire Cahen (Sandrine Kiberlain), to go up the thread of the criminal network. Their wanderings will first take them to Brussels, to the headquarters of the European Commission. Then in Hungary, in a theater in Budapest, where the French company is received to play thecomic illusion, by Corneille, during the performance of which an encrypted transmission must take place.

The Green Perfume thus fuels this incomparable fictional catalyst that is paranoia, a cordial alliance of secrecy and suspicion, which function like magnetic poles. Pariser thus orchestrates, around his couple of heroes destined to fall in love, a ballet of signs – codes to be deciphered, threatening presences, hidden plans, redundant objects – which suggest obscure movements. The filmmaker had accustomed us to handling this occult material, where the plot is only the submerged part of a vast fictional design, with his first feature film, The Great Gamewhich dabbled in the backwater of spooks and political gears.

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“The Green Perfume”: Nicolas Pariser tries his hand at paranoid Hitchcockian fiction