Perfect Eddie Alcazar review Garrett Wareing

Year: 2019
Director(s): Eddie Alcazar
Writer(s): Eddie Alcazar, Ted Kupper
Region of Origin: US
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Rating: n/a
Color, 85 mins

Synopsis: After a violent event, a young man undergoes grotesque, otherworldly treatment. (Source)

Eddie Alcazar’s Perfect is absolutely maddening. Made up of jaw-dropping visuals and a complete abstraction of human urges, it’s an unsettling mix of Alejandro Jodorowsky, Ridley Scott, Matthew Barney and Panos Cosmatos. While it definitely won’t and can’t be for everyone, it’s a bold provocation that’s more about asking questions rather than giving clear answers. As such, it’s a film that also never tells us exactly what or how to feel. Instead, Alcazar has given us something that pushes beyond our cinematic comfort zone. He’s found a way to dissect the existential nature of perfection itself and society’s increasingly warped version of it. This is, above all, the cinema as a pure, sensory experience. Nothing can prepare you for what you’re about to see, and the images here frankly embed themselves deep into our psyche. If I had to be concise, Alcazar has created an arresting mixture of profane and holy, ripped straight from another dimension.

After an act of violence, a young man known only as Vessel 13 (Garrett Wareing) is sent off to an isolated clinic deep in an unknown jungle. The clinic is home to all manner of strange sights. Neon-drenched parties, therapy via a voice in the intercom, and most shocking, treatment that consists of grotesque body mutilation and modification. As Vessel 13 works to rebuild, the very foundations of his reality begin to disintegrate.

It goes without saying, that Alcazar’s film searches for truth that exists somewhere between a dream and reality. There’s a lot swirling about here. Horrifying shades of toxic masculinity, the changing definition of beauty and the torment of a haunted past take center stage. Rather than a linear, neat narrative, Alcazar’s abstractions are a nightmarish tone poem that is almost impossible to keep up with. Each scene and frame is meticulously crafted. Each moment operates on multiple levels, as angular, sharp production design contrasts with monstrous body horror. But while the story and visuals don’t even seem to take place in a world we recognize, the primal urges that float them are deafening and relatable. Alcazar has rendered a cosmic balance of opposing forces and a literal depiction of self-destructive rebirth. The end result is a hypnotic study of the intangible impulses that guide us, and an invitation to look deep into the abyss of existence. 

Perfect review Courtney Eaton

Appropriately, the performances here don’t operate on a traditional level. Dialogue is mostly delivered through reflective voice over, and the characters themselves are mostly texture to the visual poetry at play. Still, Garrett Wareing provides a reliably unreliable anchor, slowly devolving at each turn with arresting conviction. Wareing, who undergoes both psychological and physical transformations provides a tether that pulls us deep into the madness. Courtney Eaton and Abbie Cornish add sparse counterpoints, while Tao Okamoto and Maurice Compte provide pivotal, climactic moments that shake foundations. 

Even if you’re not into the film’s impressionistic descent, there’s no denying Alcazar’s invention. You can see the influences, but Alcazar has strewn them into something defiantly his. Whereas too many films nowadays are instantly forgettable or simply disposable escapism, there’s something mesmerizing in Alcazar’s otherworldly voyeurism. This fever dream traps us, offering little escape even after its over. I’m betting Perfect becomes a distant midnight classic, and definitely something that screams to be seen on the biggest, loudest screen possible.

SG