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  • Writer's pictureS.J.

'Her Smell' Review: Elisabeth Moss' Rock Star Bangs Her Head Against The Wall

Elisabeth Moss with a guitar and studio mic
Gunpowder & Sky

It doesn’t really take too much wisdom to understand why something like Her Smell wouldn’t break out in a bigger way. There’s a lot of patience required with the story that is told here, being a maniacal piece of filmmaking and near performance art as far as the acting goes. I honestly felt quite uncertain about it all. I admire the courageous and spontaneous attempt that is very apparent from the writing all the way to editing, on the other hand frustration and emptiness that I got from it reminded me a lot about some of the worst films I’ve seen lately. Teetering on the line of unique rockstar tale and messy melodrama, it surely won’t win you over fully.

The way that director of photography Sean Price Williams shoots the Alex Ross Perry written/directed film, isn’t in any way perfect or technically bold. What makes it matter however is the point of view that it has on the script and dialogue. We as viewers are on the floor, on the move and frantically going from side to side when there’s pure chaos happening, camera starts to slow down only when the story takes a moment to catch its breath. Camera work presented is the biggest factor in the overall picture that we get from being at the club or studio, Her Smell is a kind of film which I haven’t seen yet stylistically and that is something I’d rather see done even half-right than watch something boring and usual.

The main plot revolves around a rockstar of fluctuating fame, Becky Something who is played by Elisabeth Moss, from a band Something She which is playing a medium-sized club in the beginning. She has a young daughter, substance addiction, problems with her band mates and enough talent to write gold singles. Dealing with all of those things is where the movie falls flat, it never truly finds a right tone with any of them which leads to aforementioned melodrama. Film plays out in five acts separated by home video footage which just further turns up the distortion level of mismatching tones. Acts 2 and 5 are emotionally empty and clumsily written while only act 4 hits both the right musical and character notes (a solid, low-key cover of Bryan Adams’ ‘Heaven’ is featured). Besides that cover the performance acting is quite bad. If stunt doubles are needed for things that main actors can’t do physically, then stunt musicians should be a thing when the actors can’t play their instruments.

Smileys: Cinematography, originality

Frowneys: Structure, tone, acting

Kind of repeating myself here but the drum ”playing” in the last act really hurt me to my core.


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