Her Smell (Alex Ross Perry, 2018): USA

Reviewed by Jordan Barr, Viewed at AFI Film Festival 2018

Her Smell, directed by Alex Ross Perry, is an absolute masterpiece and one of the most memorable films that I’ve seen in 2018.  Although similar in concept to A Star is Born, this isn’t a movie you’d want to take your family to – its ugly and uncomfortable yet  raw. Her Smell revolves around the life of Becky Something, a washed up lead singer in the decline of her career. She is the human embodiment of a car accident – horrific and frightening, yet you can’t seem to take your eyes off of her. 

Elizabeth Moss is absolutely brilliant as Becky, she dove headfirst into this role’s madness and truly became Becky. The punk rock band Something She is both held together and torn apart by Becky. Her flippant yet iconic stage persona has drowned every ounce of humanity in her and she constantly abuses the people who take care of her. Viewers are left questioning whether it’s drug use, mental illness or if she’s truly a horrible person. We see glimpses of the person she used to be through her bandmates and her mother’s eyes and this hope carries viewers through her painfully slow downfall. Marielle, played by Agyness Deyn, desperately tries to hold everything together for far longer than understandable and she perfectly exemplifies the emotional toll Becky inflicts on those around her. She’s also the perfect punk rocker and this film does a great job at portraying the punk rock scene. 

The experimental cinematography and pacing isn’t for everyone. Scenes seem to drag on for an uncomfortable amount of time yet this is exactly what makes the film so powerful. Her Smell is not supposed to be enjoyable to watch, its an immersive experience. Viewers are thrown into Becky’s world and taken along on an emotional rollercoaster. The hypnotic sound effects make this film even more intense, it’s almost as if you get inside of Becky’s head and begin to feel a little bit insane yourself. I left this film feeling emotionally exhausted and I loved it. Only a truly great film can leave an impact like Her Smell did. 



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