Film Review – Her Smell (2018)

Ever since her role in The Handmaid’s Tale, Elisabeth Moss has broke that ‘supporting role’ to become a leading actress. In 2018 Alex Ross Perry‘s Her Smell (which I wathed at 2019 Glasgow Film Festival), starring Moss recently aired on BBC. now on iPlayer what better time to give this underrated film a review.

Sex, drugs and Becky Something, Her Smell is the rise and fall of fictional rock star Becky (Moss). She front’s the all female grunge rock band Something She. In a fearless story rooted in the 1990’s rock scene, her band once filled arenas but thanks to her excesses, derails the tour. Becky now steps out the spotlight to fight her demons in the hope she can recapture the old magic that led the band to success.

Your own worst enemy is akways yourself and Becky is certainly hers. When we first meet her everyone who meets her or part of her life they too are like her enemies. We meet her ex-husband Danny (Dan Stevens), he let’s Becky know ‘You’re a mess’. What’s even more heartbreaking is that Becky also has a infant daughter who she treats like a pet.

The film is delivered in five acts that’s Becky’s path of destruction documenting her downard spiral. We do get glimpses of the band’s success and career highs. Big album sales, sell out shows, there faces painted all over magazines and billboards. By the time we arrive at the second act everything is falling apart, Becky is missing recording sessions, late to gigs. Her relationship with her other band members (Agyness Deyn and Gayle Rankin) is paper thin. It soon becomes non-existent forcing the new album and upcoming tour to be scrapped.

Much of Her Smell is set amongst the smoke filled corridors and green rooms of the music venues as well as the band’s recording studio. Becky is always the centre of the attention, alway drunk, out her face on cocaine or even both. She’s arguing and fighting with anyone with a shread of care for her or crosses her path. It’s Obvious the success and stress of fronting a band is burning her out. One could argue she is also plagued with mental health issues such as Bipolar.

Her demons take centre stage, but this film isn’t really just about Becky. It’s also about the damage of her unravelling on the people around her. Becky even manipulates especially a new upcoming all girl band The Akergirls (Cara Delevigne, Ashley Benson, Dylan Gelula) who at first are starstruck that they are being ‘mentored’ by one of their musical heroes. Becky doesn’t realise the record label are setting them up to be the new darlings of their label.

When we finally get to the fifth act has Becky truly exorcised her demons? Can she make a comeback trouble free?

Elisabeth Moss is mesmerising as Becky Something, she clearly embodies Courtney Love. We witness her musical talents, also her hellraising side, she’s also terrifiying and funny but also very vulnerable. The rest of the cast are equally good too with Deyn and Eric Stolz (her long suffering manager) the standouts.

Her Smell is an cathartic ride that will take you to some dark places. Moss mind blowing performance make the 135 minute running time worthwhile. This is an exhilarting, unrelenting, raw film.

★★★★

Drama, Music | USA, 2018 | 15 | Digital HD | Signature Entertainment | Dir.Alex Ross Perry | Elisabeth Moss, Agyness Deyn, Cara Delevigne, Eric Stolz, Dan Stevens, Gayle Rankin, Virginia Madsen

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