top of page

The Melancholy Of Perfection: Cinema's Woeful Characters

Understanding perfection requires the understanding of what one means by “flaw.” While the goal we set for ourselves as perfection should be an immobile and controlled destination, when we “gain” the perfection we hope to achieve today, we won’t be able to stay there for very long because people change constantly. Considering the fact that evolution itself progresses through flaws, wouldn’t the lack of flaws endanger the existence of many things? Remember that cinema was born of a flaw as each film raises an idea about the workings of the human psyche, the driving force that motivates our behaviours and actions, and our thoughts in daily life. Although the history of cinema has introduced us to “perfect” beauties, lives, houses, and careers, films prefer to show the audience the painful journey that made it happen. Each of these characters, whose flaws are natural by birth, instinctual like jealousy, or manipulated, invite the audience to face their own flaws.

The Elephant Man

Based on a true story, The Elephant Man tells the life of John Merrick, a young man born with a deformed body who lived in a circus in Victorian-era London. The second featurelength film by David Lynch, The Elephant Man continues to be the most compassionate and sensitive production in the history of cinema despite the 40 years since its release. Despite showing how cruel people can be about flaws, their ridicule and disdain, and attempts at deviant voyeurism, the film is a perfect example of how all superficial obstacles can be overcome and how real treatment lies in the soul, beyond the body

Beau Travail

Beau Travail isn’t narrative-driven; rather it’s a film about images, colours, and sounds. Adapted into cinema by Claire Denis from Billy Budd by Herman Melville’s, regarded as one of the best novellas in the history of literature, the film is a satire of militarism which talks about the training, patrol, laundry, and ironing routine of soldiers with perfect bodies of various ethnicities who come together for the French Foreign Legion in a distant corner of Africa. When the line between machoism and homoerotism becomes blurred in Adjudant-Chef Galoup’s envious character, the finale invites the audience to the most hypnotic dance in cinema.

Primo Amore

Since popular culture, the fashion industry in particular, has made being thin an ideal standard for female beauty, women have been forced to compare themselves to an unrealistic image. Directed by Matteo Garrone, Primo Amore is a thriving psychodrama from Italian cinema—a perfect exposition of sexual politics, portraying how a woman strives to conform to a man’s understanding of beauty even if it costs her health and dignity.

The Neon Demon

A 16-year-old girl arrives in Los Angeles for her modelling career and is eaten by three women whose fame she could destroy. Today, capitalism makes a lot of profit for very few people and makes society gradually worse for everybody else. Although The Neon Demon provides a fairly ordinary interpretation as a fashion critique, it also blends various genres and tells the story of profound transformation, in which protagonist Jesse changes from an innocent girl into a narcissistic character. The final scene evokes a sense of hatred and an urge to throw tomatoes at the screen with a demonic ritual, without which it would be impossible to worship beauty and to truly own it forever.

I, Tonya

Artistic figure skater Tonya Harding’s story of becoming an Olympic champion despite her mother’s physical and verbal abuse, I, Tonya is a biography that is heavily based on the idea of an unreliable narrator and is supported by fake interviews. Portraying Tonya Harding, who was the first woman to land triple axel and the queen of figure skating, a sport of tradition and elegance for Americans, Margot Robbie manages to relay all the hardship in Harding’s life to the audience. Telling her life’s story until the end of her figure skating career as a result of her attack on Nancy Kerrigan, the film enforces an ethical confrontation for everyone who believes that sports should be represented by “perfect” people.


bottom of page