Saturday, December 21, 2019

[Review] Her Smell

Being a rockstar can be a nasty business. 

Alex Ross Perry crowd-dives into the nitty gritty of it with Her Smell, a grimy portrait of a self-destructive musician who’s impressively played by an electric Elisabeth Moss.

When we’re first introduced to ‘90s alt-rock singer Beck Something (Moss), she’s backstage at a show conducting ceremonies with a shaman and passing out drunk with her baby daughter in her arms (yikes). 

That troubling sight sets the stage for the film. The events are presented in a series of five vignettes that unfold in real time. While this tactic can feel a little uneven and draggy at times, it lends a sense of intimacy, immediacy, and fittingly raw realism. 

Elisabeth Moss, who seems to be embodying the spirit of Courtney Love here, gives one of the most sensational performances of the year. She’s a torrent of messiness and moods. A whirlwind of screams and smeared eye makeup. A hurricane of erratic antics and tortured thoughts. Her emotions range from deafening guitar feedback to quiet piano notes. It’s truly revelatory. 

Her Smell commendably never romanticizes this lifestyle. It’s ugly, toxic, starling, and dreadful. This is a film of snorted lines, broken bottles, and tattered walls. But within those tattered walls is a shred of fragile hope for the future. 

( 7.5/10 )

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