HER SMELL

HER SMELL

(director/writer: Alex Ross Perry; cinematographer: Sean Price Williams; editor: Robert Greene; music: Keegan DeWitt, Anika Pyle, Alicia Bognanno; cast: Elizabeth Moss (Becky Something), Agyness Deyn (Marielle Hell), Gayle Rankin (Ali van der Wolff), Dan Stevens (Danny), Cara Delevigne (Crassie Cassie), Ashley Benson (Roxie Rotten), Dylan Gelula (Dottie O.Z), Eric Stoltz (Howard Goodman), Amber Heard (Zelda E. Zekiel), Eka Darville (Ya-ema), Lindsay Burdge (Lauren), Hannah Gross (Tiffany), Virginia Madsen (Ania Adamcyzk); Runtime: 134; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Matthew Perniciaro, Michael Sherman, Adam Piotrowicz, Elisabeth Moss, Alex Ross Perry; Gunpowder & Sky; 2018)

“Lunatic ’90’s indie punk rocker movie that’s not likable but difficult to reject.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Alex Ross Perry (“Listen Up Philip”/”Queen of Earth”) is writer-director of this lunatic ’90’s indie punk rocker movie that’s not likable but difficult to reject. It seems to be saying something vital about the human condition and a society that enables misfits to become rich and famous. Perry has divided the film into four parts (a backstage meltdown, a recording-studio meltdown, a backstage meltdown, and an attempt at recovery), using flashbacks to move back and forth over time. Elizabeth Moss plays Becky Something, the frontwoman of a popular all-female punk rock band trio called Something She. Becky reaches fame after rising from the bottom and when on top has a meltdown causing her to self-destruct.

It opens to a backstage hassle filled with verbal abuse when the downer singer Becky and her enabler band members, Marielle (Agyness Deyn) and Ali (Gayle Rankin), perform with her at a club called Her Smell. After the performance, in the dressing room, Becky goes into a tantrum (tamped up because of her drug addiction and big ego) and relentlessly rants against everyone including her band as being shits. Also present in the the dressing room are Howard Goodman (Eric Stoltz), the nervous record company head, worried about losing his record company, gets bombarded with insults. Her mom (Virginia Madsen) is severely put down. Her long-suffering ex-husband Danny (Dan Stevens), a former DJ and now the single parent of their child, is insulted when he arrives with their baby daughter and a girlfriend named Tiffany (Hannah Gross) that she detests. During all this hatred spewed, Becky ironically keeps a charlatan new-age spiritual guide (Eka Darville) on for good vibes. The claustrophobic horror scene, brilliantly shot by cinematographer Sean Price Williams, seems to have the dressing room walls crashing down on these flawed characters, all who have lost the way on their journey through life.

After that most unpleasant mind-blowing scene, if you haven’t hit the exits, the action switches to the studio, when the hipster group named after French director Chantal Akerman, Akergirls — Cassie (Cara Delevigne), Dottie (Dylan Gelula), and Roxie (Ashley Benson), walks in on the jealous Becky.

Moss inhabits her diva character as if she’s demonically possessed, in a superior performance. Though she implodes in character, the film remains intact.

It’s a far-out movie about Becky’s headache inducing rants that lead to better moments for the rock icon, who in later scenes is observed recovering due to a rehab and is better able to control her feelings. It’s a film that wants to tell us there might be hope for loser celebrities who go over the edge, but warns they must learn how to find their tender inside. The effect of the film is deafening, even if the watch is often blurry and unwatchable except when it hits its few fantastic tender moments. 

REVIEWED ON 1/9/2020  GRADE: B  https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/ 

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