In my last year of high school in Canada, my ESL (English as a secondary language) teacher was deeply in love with the book “The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan, and she made us read it for assignment. The novel is about four Chinese mothers and daughters and their poignant, and sometimes tragic personal histories that happened in China and America. Two years later, the book was adapted into a movie, and I went to see it in the theater. The movie was deadly sad and had a killer Chinese string ensemble soundtrack. I could hear sniffing and sobbing from the audience in full surround sound throughout the whole movie. Later my sister told me that her friend had also watched it but he wasn’t moved by it at all. He told her, “it’s one of those typical stories, a Chinese mother drowning her baby girl because the family wanted a son instead. Everyone asked me to watch because it’s sad. I didn’t shed a single tear.”
So what if someone tells me that there’s a movie that would make me cry, and I don’t feel a thing watching it? what does that imply?
1) I don’t understand why it is sad.
2) I have seen enough of this kind of melodrama and it can’t move me anymore.
3) I am a dick.
I recently bought a bottle of MDCI’s Promesse de l’Aube because of a 5 star review. The reviewer says, “The tune of this fragrance may not be hugely original, but the orchestration will bring tears to your eyes.”
Because of this review, I was ecstatic when I found out the city I live in finally have a niche perfume shop that carries MDCI. The first bottle I sniffed was, of course, Promesse de l’Aube, but I was disappointed – nothing was wrong with that perfume, and that’s wrong. It’s like watching a TV sitcom where every actor is pretty but none of them I find attractive. Also, where’s the drama? The second time I smelled it, I thought I kind of get it. The opening was more beautiful than I remember, the floral notes smelled real instead of synthetic, and they are well blended. But again, where’s the drama? The actors are staring at each other not saying anything because the commercial break is coming. The third time, I decided to buy it because the shop was going to raise the price and I wanted it in my collection so that I could study it more.
Promesse de l’Aube is a chypre designed by Francis Kurkdjian. It smells quite like Acqua di Parma’s Nobile Iris, which is also designed by Kurkdjian; instead of iris, we have jasmine. On my skin, the dry down smells a bit sour, green, rosy and dusty. In less than an hour, the scent is gone. “Promesse de l’Aube” means Promise of Dawn, and dawn is beautiful, to some it’s so beautiful that tears may roll down the cheek when they see it. I think it’s beautiful too, but that’s all.
Afterthoughts: Of course, I didn’t expect to react the same way as the reviewer. Or any reviewer. The reviewer is Luca Turin in this case, and he never says “the orchestration will bring tears to your eyes” in any other of his reviews. I was intrigued. I wanted to experience that perfume that he thought highly of. I wondered, not seriously, if it was as good as he said to be, or do I have the “nose” to tell if something is that good. Now I think about it, it’s a fun but silly exercise – there are no conclusions.