Perfect is Eddie Alcazar’s directorial debut featuring an ambitious cast of young actors, driven to delivering performances worth noting. Garrett Wareing, playing the central character, treads the film’s hyper-stylized landscapes with an ability to remain distinguished amid the over-the-top special effects and animation.
Executive produced by Steven Soderbergh (Unsane), Perfect is furnished with impressive production design and special effects, marking its territory in the science fiction realm accompanied by a storyline that treads the body-horror genre; although at times, these characteristics can be unbalanced throughout the film. Perhaps taking place in an alternate universe, Perfect’s setting blends two contradicting periods of 80’s hardware with high tech futuristic technology; it’s conceivable to assume this is Alcazar revealing what we thought the future would have been like back in the 1980’s.
Perfect stars Gerrett Wareing as Vessel 13, a clearly troubled young man who’s just murdered a young woman; revealing her cold, lifeless body lying in bed, covered in blood. Abbie Cornish (Sucker Punch), known as Mother, receives a telephone call from her son (Vessel 13), pleading for her help. Soon after, we find Vessel 13 taken to a secluded clinic buried within the depths of the woods, in an effort to achieve perfection by ridding himself of his murderous tendencies. As Mother and Vessel 13 sit idly inside a limousine, we glimpse moments of their relationship as their discourse remains subtle. Mother encourages his stay at the clinic, giving subtle nuances that perhaps she has stayed at one point in her life. “You’ll have to choose your own path, and follow it til’ the end,” she tells him.
In an attempt to explore the means of achieving perfection, Alcazar presents a story that we assume would lead to an intermediate state of purgatory and redemption. Rather, Perfect explores genetic/cosmetic enhancement by the literal removal of tainted flesh and replacing it with some type of synthetic material; a clear rectangular object that is inserted in place of the dislodged flesh. There is no such absolution or trial in Perfect. Our main character’s path to perfection is simply modification to a literal degree of self-mutilation. As we enter the clinic, our eyes are littered with self-indulgent overtones; beautiful bodies lounging in a somewhat exotic futuristic scenery. Although the purpose of the clinic is made clear, the people we find in it are never really explored. Who are they? Why are they there?
Soon enough, the young man begins receiving instructions on replacing pieces of his flesh with clear plastic cubes referred to as ‘upgrades’. The cubes are placed in cardboard packaging, somewhat similar to toy figurines. Intent on transforming Vessel 13 into becoming “something better, more evolved,” we find his metamorphosis in retrograde. In stark contrast, the other patients are moving beyond their tainted traits, leaving their former selves behind. At one point in meeting a fellow patient/love interest, a young woman by the name Sarah (Courtney Eaton), she tells him, “You have to evolve past your own nature.”
What does this tell the audience about our main character? In essence, Vessel 13 is unable to shed the murderous tendencies that imprison his evolution due to his intemperate nature. His connection to females leads to a propensity of violence, revealing his nature is governed by two masters; pain and brutality.
What Perfect lacks in story, Eddie Alcazar makes up in mood and visuals by granting the audience the pleasure of appealing aesthetics, yet context seems to get lost in the mix. Executive produced by Steven Ellison, most notable by stage name Flying Lotus (who also composed the entire score for the film), Perfect is well equipped with a soundtrack that bleeds dark retro synth, contributing to the overall “feel” of the film. Beneath the surface of Perfect, one may encounter themes of lust, obsession, and guilt; which ultimately offers a glimpse at our own demons in self-reflect. Although Vessel 13’s quest to perfection is unorthodox, his motivations for self-improvement aren’t far from our own desires; nor is it too far from what we’d be willing to give for our own progress.
Overall, Perfect is a film with lots to look at, yet with little to tell. Garrett Wareing delivers a stellar performance of a broken young man, surrendering himself entirely to the role. Abbie Cornish and Courtney Eaton also deliver performances that are noteworthy. Yet the lack of substance in their characters gets drowned out by the flashy visuals. Perfect is an ambitious, beautifully shot film that may resonate with those who are more sensible to the artistic, less direct, form of storytelling. Feeling unbalanced at times, the film’s artistic direction seems to split in several ways, not providing an opportunity for a cohesive storyline. At times, Perfect can feel more like an MTV music video than a body-horror, science fiction film. But don’t let that stop you. Surrendering to the experience of the film has its rewards. For fans of David Cronenberg, Perfect might be something you may want to venture next time you’re hanging out with friends. Perfect also stars Japanese actress and model, Tao Okamoto (The Wolverine), Leonardo Nam (Westworld), and Courtney Eaton (Mad Max: Fury Road).
You can catch Perfect now on VOD through the Breaker.io official website. Breaker.io is offering Perfect as a free rental (use code: PERFECT) for 30 days; rental code began June 21st, 2019. You can also stream Flying Lotus’s music on Spotify.