Orphan, Jean Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw) develops a special olfactory sense. After working in a tannery, he discovers the city and meets a girl that inebriates his senses. He then realizes that he has a destiny. He soon meets perfume-maker Baldini (Dustin Hoffman) and will reproduce perfumes for him. However, his work will take a dark turn as his search deepens for the ultimate scent.
While the book is very vivid and calls for the reader's imagination regarding the smells, and accurately describes the olfactory senses and odors one might encounter, the film obviously lacks this reproduction. (It *is* difficult to transfer odor on film! so this was to be expected.) Also, the book was more shocking than the movie probably because of the strong description of smells, and violent details.
That said, the film is nevertheless watchable, despite Hoffman's terrible overacting interpretation. Whishaw is a good casting choice as Grenouille, he is well directed and is not too much a "pretty boy" for the part.
The costumes, the period details, the images, the music - they do help in experiencing atmosphere, but it still rather limited because of the lack of correct interpretation or transcription of smells to the screen.
Worth watching once. For the sheer beauty of the photography work.
NOTE: I still recommend reading the book, whether before or after the film that is your choice. But read the book. A totally different experience.