Suzanne's Perfume Journal

Perfume and a Movie:
Exploring Amouage Interlude Man by Way of Soul Kitchen

As the title of this post indicates, I recently watched the 2009 film Soul Kitchen, a comedy by Turkish-German director and screenwriter Fatih Akin, who is better known for his dramatic films which have won prizes at various international film festivals. Soul Kitchen is about a restaurant owner named Zinos, who operates his bar and eatery in a former warehouse that he bought on the deserted side of town (in this case, Hamburg, Germany). It possesses an offbeat charm and a steady clientele, but Soul Kitchen is mostly a run-down joint that is far from jumpin’. Zinos is not only the owner but chief cook and bottle washer, and much of what he serves is the standard fare most people reach for as an easy pick-me-up after a long day: burgers, fries and pizza. He’s not making much money—he spends more time than he cares to in the restaurant’s dinghy kitchen—and it would seem an easy decision to close up shop when his girlfriend Nadine, a journalist, accepts an assignment in China and wants him to come with her. But Zinos cares about this place, and though he doesn’t look the part of the sensitive man, it becomes evident that he’s a caring kind of guy all around. He stays in Hamburg while holding out hope that he can keep his keep his relationship with Nadine together, even from a distance, which is when every obstacle gets put in his way: a crippling back injury that leave him unable to stand up straight; visits from aggressive tax collectors and from an even more aggressive (and underhanded) "friend" who intends to buy the Soul Kitchen out from under him; and a demand from his brother, a hustler out on temporary work-release from prison, to give him a job. Last but not least, when it finally seems he can solve some of his problems by hiring a cook, he ends up losing his customers when this talented and tempestuous chef refuses to serve up anything less than haute cuisine.

Soul Kitchen is a loveable romp of a film—a shaggy comedy with everything but the kitchen sink thrown in (although that might be there, too) and all of the predictable tricks of the comedic trade. It’s not original, yet serves up a familiar dish in a way that is more engaging than most American-made comedies for three basic reasons. The first being that the actors aren’t the Hollywood types one is used to seeing over and over again. They‘re every bit as good-looking as Hollywood actors, but far less manicured—and their more natural and new-to-me faces make me feel like I’m seeing a real story unfold rather than a script written as a vehicle for certain stars. Secondly, the sprawling and unwieldy story line has a similar effect, as its untidy quality is more in keeping with the messiness of real life. And thirdly, it helps that Soul Kitchen was filmed in Germany (and in German with English subtitles) because any foreign element invokes a sense of disassociation which changes the way I view a film, making what is familiar seem new.

Listing these reasons isn’t my attempt to convince you to watch it (though I’d be happy if you did), so much as to provide an analogy for my featured perfume—Amouage Interlude Man—a fragrance that is not terribly original, more than a bit lazy, and unkempt to the point of outright wooliness, yet has just enough of a foreign accent and chutzpah to fool me into inquiring, “I don’t believe we’ve met before, have we?” every time I wear it.

Interlude Man is not a perfume I anthropomorphize or view as manly—which is a strange thing to say about something that offers up so much wood. (“That thing has more wood than I do,” my husband joked one evening, from a room away, when I put just one spritz on my wrist.) From its initial blast of smoky agarwood to its far drydown of scrumptious sandalwood, Interlude Man is woody indeed, but married to a slew of other heavy accords that make it come across to my nose as a strange gourmand. Sort of. Actually, the description Interlude Man most lives up to is the very one that Amouage’s creative director, Christopher Chong gives it: “A spicy and woody fragrance inspired by chaos and disorder masquerading as an interlude moment of harmony and peace.” For it does smell of chaotic accords that somehow seem to be magically put on pause, in the way they resist unfolding for much of their incredibly long wear.

Interlude’s chaos begins with an effervescent amount of bergamot and pepper which seem to provide a propulsive burst to its main event, the smoky wood note. This agarwood (oud) comes at the nose as if shot from a cannon, and it is soon joined by an oregano note that smells like a burning doobie, an opoponax note that smells like burnt marshmallows, and a leather accord that is discernible to the inquiring nose but gets more than a bit suffocated by the mix. Similarly, the frankincense that others find so prominent in this fragrance is utterly lost on me: whatever frankincense is in here might just as well be smoke—and if you didn’t get the idea already, let me assure you that there’s enough smoke in this scent to match the wood.

All of this works for me because I do like the smell of smoke and wood, and when it combines with things that resemble the vanillic and carmelized smell of burnt marshmallows, the jarringly strange odor of pot, and the vaguely animalic scent of leather, consider me hooked, for no other reason than that these scent elements smell weirdly attractive together. Despite the imposing sillage of this perfume, it’s a perfume that smells more offbeat than refined, and makes me feel young again—as if I’m sitting around a campfire with friends and am at an early point in my life where I can’t afford anything that might come in an Amouage-priced perfume bottle: life isn’t exactly tidy—nothing significant has fallen into place yet—yet I’m too foolishly young to worry about all of that.

Interlude is the perfect name for such a time and for the potent smell of this perfume that brings it back to me. It’s a truthful name—that moment in time was nothing more than a moment—and such moments come and go at every stage of living. The good times are mere interludes, and by extension, the bad times are too, so why does it seem like there’s so many more of the latter?

That’s a question that can’t be easily answered—and maybe the reason man invented comedy

Amouage Interlude Man eau de parfum has top notes of bergamot, oregano and pimento berry oil; heart notes of amber, frankincense, cistus and opoponax; and base notes of leather, agarwood smoke, patchouli and sandalwood. It can be purchased from, 50-ml for $225 or 100-ml for $275. My review is based on a complimentary sample sent to me by Parfums Raffy.

Image of actors Birol Ünel and Adam Bousdoukos in the 2009 film Soul Kitchen is from
Image of Amouage Interlude Man bottle is from

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February 13, 2013: