Wildly uneven, sporadically brilliant, occasionally unbearable, Alex Ross Perry’s sprawling portrait of a self-destructive rock star is carried by a performance by Elisabeth Moss which is turned all the way up to eleven, and beyond.
Her Smell is an undoubted triumph, standing as one of the year’s best releases by a long shot. As a drama it’s already a winner, but as a weaving exploration of a band’s shelf to keep the show going, Ross has crafted an unmissable journey. Sporting a blisteringly soulful soundtrack with energy bleeding between the grooves and staggeringly raw observations of soured success, it would be a disservice to let this one go in one ear and out the other.
Only for fans of the director's previous efforts, or films that full-on assault the viewer. Elisabeth Moss gives one of the greatest performances you'll ever see. It's like Gaspar Noe by way of John Cassavetes.
Her Smell is a berserker infused a mad poetry. In her third film with Perry, following "Listen Up," "Phillip and Queen of the Earth," Moss takes a character who makes Courtney Love look like Mother Teresa and exposes the shards of humanity that once vitalized and defined her music. The effect is shattering.
Her Smell is built around a performance of near-unwatchable toxicity by Elisabeth Moss, who channels a combination of Courtney Love and Heath Ledger’s Joker with her spiteful, slowly imploding rock star.
In what does have to be perversely honored as some kind of special accomplishment for Moss as a performer, Becky sustains such an abusive, mad, pathetic and immature display for well over an hour that you just want to bolt. What edification can possibly be gotten from such a grotesque form of exhibitionism?
Her Smell is a fantastic character study led by Elisabeth Moss in a tour-de-force performance. She bleeds through every frame she's in, and is absolutely mesmerizing to watch. This movie does an excellent job of making you feel real empathy for a self-destructive, spoiled, selfish, and extremely damaged person. Her Smell runs at about two and a half hours, and I felt every single minute of that runtime. If that's not something you gel with, you probably won't like this movie. Also, I feel like Her Smell would have been MUCH better as a play! It's a perfect stage drama, and something you might see at Steppenwolf in Chicago or on Off-Broadway. If you love character driven dramas, or stories of rockstars going through mental breakdowns (ala The Doors) or if you are just a big Elisabeth Moss fan, you need to see this movie.
The first half or so of this film put me off because it depicts such a chaotic and disastrous, out of control female punk rocker type character and there doesn't appear to be any coherent plotline. There's a fair amount of mumbled dialogue during the scenes shot backstage - it has a documentary film feel to it, perhaps a little like 'This Is Spinal Tap' or something, only this isn't comedic at all of course. Its somewhat painful viewing at times, how Becky reacts when she arrives, substantially late for the intended show. You can hear the booming music (I assume played on speakers by the stage) while trying to make out what's being said by whom - its a little exhausting(!). I can't say its not atmospheric I suppose but still, confusing and disorientating are also terms that come to mind.
In the 2nd half, or latter half, of the film, its quieter and more interesting, with Becky trying to get herself sober and her life sorted. However, even then there's still quite quiet dialogue and the viewer is left guessing, to an extent, what's going through her head. Elisabeth Moss certainly gives a decent performance, portraying such a vulnerable character very well - I wouldn't criticise her of that. I thought it was poignant that one of the song lyrics she sings is 'I just want to be in control of it, control of it...' I imagine she feels like she has little control over many things in her life and situation (regardless of whether or not thats ultimately true or not).
I thought the best scenes were of her and her daughter, trying to acknowledge, befriend and get along with each other better than has previously been the case. It's certainly not an easy watch in some ways and it felt too scatter gun (if thats the right term?) but its not an awful film as such, no. It's not a film I'd actively recommend and it's not a remarkable film but for a film about an out of control young female rocker type, this certainly isn't bad. It's nearly a very good film but not quite - to me, this was an ok film that I'm glad I stuck with during the over the top, chaotic and somewhat unclear plot direction-wise first hour, first half or so. For fans of Elisabeth Moss, yes I'd recommend this but otherwise? not so much. Make of that what you will.
Complete waste of time from beginning to end. The only reason I gave this film a chance was because Elisabeth Moss was the lead in it and I know what a phenomenal actress she can be but this move was just so terrible not even Moss could save it.
I don't want to say it but I can't help myself--forgive me! "Her Smell" should have been entitled, "She Smells". For the first hour and a half, we watch a rock star spiral down from fame after too many drugs, not being able to handle fame, care for her daughter, losing her ex, not showing up on time for concerts if even showing up at all, doing a recording session, basically having a complete breakdown. The director, Alex Ross Perry, shows us all of it through a regular camera, a handheld camera, a phone camera while traveling back and forth in time not to forget having all the cameras swirling, upside down, going ever each way.
The director, who also wrote the script, convinced us, showed us, that she was having a breakdown but instead of telling it in 15 minutes he took 90 minutes. Perry is the sort of director that if he shows two women kissing he has to show them kissing 10 times just in case we missed the point! I was ready to leave at the 30-minute point and said so to Allen at least 5 more times!
For the last 40-45 minutes of the film, we see her recovery and then get to the 'Hollywood' ending.
Elisabeth Moss has proven herself an excellent actress and draws many audience members to see her television series but if the audience at today's showing is any indication, 3 of us, she isn't a movie draw! Okay, will give her a benefit of a doubt because the final Avengers did open today also.
I won't rewrite my opening play on words but this film is definitely on my worst films of the year but "The Climax" is still in first place!