‘The Perfection’ is now streaming on Netflix
"The Perfection" aspires to be one of those trashy thrillers that knows it’s ridiculous and embraces it. There’s a place for movies like that, and a long history of audiences being entertained by them.
This is not one of those movies. It is, instead, monumentally incoherent, crammed with storytelling gimmicks and characters acting in ways that don’t just defy logic, but hack it to pieces. The filmmaker Richard Shepard, a veteran who directed a lot of "Girls" and movies such as "The Matador," is capable of much more than this.
Allison Williams plays a onetime prodigy cellist named Charlotte, who gave it all up to care for her sick mother and struggled through some serious personal demons, which we witness in quick shock cuts. As the picture opens, she has traveled to China, where she reunites with her teacher Anton (Steven Webber) and meets his new star act Lizzie (Logan Browning).
The opening sequences play like a low-rent erotic thriller, as Lizzie instantenously seduces and sleeps with Charlotte. Soon, things shift into horror territory that involves a whole mess of cliches and paranoid delusions, none of which amount to anything more than head-slapping absurdities that shift wildly according to the needs of the screenplay at any particular moment.
There are no hard and fast rules dictating what a movie must be, but there are basic standards that this picture fails. If a character is going to take a drastic, life-altering action, for example, there had better be a really good reason for it. If you’re going to double back and completely rewrite the last thirty minutes or so of screentime, you’d better offer the sort of twist that makes it truly worthwhile. To do otherwise is simply insulting to the audience.