Alessandro Gualtieri is a bit of a mad scientist in the perfume world. The self-proclaimed “crazy nose” globe trotter is the epitome of eccentric Italian style, wildly creative, and actively lives off of the beaten path. Gualtieri is trying to create a new winning fragrance by discovering the perfect failure along the lines of famous failures like Christian Dior’s Poison. We the viewer get to tag along on this exciting and peculiar hunt.
Attracted by odd scents like cat poop or as he likes to call it “refined shit,” everything from the scent of butcher shops, the smell of cocaine and hash, among many other fascinating odours, compel him to travel the world from Dubai to Mumbai. But will the perfume buying public be prepared to go on this unusual sensorial ride if he does discover the perfect failure? Gualtieri doesn’t seem particularly concerned by this, which makes it all the more fascinating, even glamorous.
The elusive quality of attraction, fixation, connection, disconnection, and the way our experiences and longings can be communicated through smell, all drive the film. Brilliantly, the film also captures our senses with intriguing visuals, the sound of foreign languages, gorgeous spaces and an ultra-cool seductively jazzy music score.
But it does not distract us from wondering what is driving Gualtieri?
Creation or escape? Performance or myth making? Does Gualtieri desire to be seen, maybe even become notorious? Or is he propelled by the power he finds in anonymity? His partner, designer Lilian Driessen, says, “To him it’s very important that no one should know who he is. It’s part of his mystery, it’s irrelevant. All he wants to leave behind are those bottles of perfume.” Ironically, the deeper the film takes us into his world the more intrigued we become about who the man is behind the scents. Gualtieri is a compelling man to watch and you can feel that director Paul Rigter is as intrigued by him as we are.
Will Gualtieri succeed at failure? If you’re prepared to be led by your nose, Searching For Blamage is an exotic and captivating adventure that will keep you hooked until the end. Chaka V.