Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Movie with Abe: Her Smell

Her Smell
Directed by Alex Ross Perry
Released May 10, 2019

The rocker lifestyle is one that lends itself to indulgent behavior. Finding a creative energy can be done with the help of drugs and alcohol, and often casual usage can lead to dependence, which itself fuels even more innovation that then makes it absolutely necessary to continue. When someone begins to withdraw from chemicals and other negative influences, the result can be truly jarring, unmasking a side of them that looks absolutely nothing like they recognize. Regaining a sense of stability from that point can be difficult, and some people find that they’re never the same.

Becky Something (Elisabeth Moss), the lead vocalist of the punk rock band Something She, is first introduced after a concert when she conducts a ceremony with her shaman (Eka Darville) that leads her to believe that her young daughter’s presence is affecting her in a bad way. Her strained relationships with her ex-husband Danny (Dan Stevens) and mother Ania (Virgina Madsen) are explored over the course of the film, which shows Becky lashing out at her bandmates and manager (Eric Stoltz), irritable at any given moment and ready to explode, until she finally decides to seek help when she realizes just how out of control her life has become.

This film starts in a fiery manner, showing Becky erupting in a fury just seconds after she is first seen on screen. The usage of five different moments over the course of a number of years to tell her story is an interesting narrative device, one that feels just as frantic and uneven as Becky’s life surely does to her and those around her. Like its main character, this film is a bit of a mess, jumping full-throttle into Becky’s rage and barely letting up until it finally provides some respite in the form of introspection and a new outlook for a reformed and totally transformed Becky, who it seems could easily slip and turn right back into her volatile self with even the slightest unfortunate encouragement.

This is an undeniably wild and unhinged turn from Moss, who marks her third collaboration with director Alex Ross Perry. Having achieved fame mostly for television performances in projects like “Mad Men” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Moss is doing something totally different here, and she’s most effective when she’s calmed down and understands how she’s treating those around her. She’s the only real anchor of this film, which leans a bit too much into its frenetic and hostile universe. Perry has made other great films about people whose behavior makes them selfish and unlikeable before, like “Listen Up Philip,” but this film feels too off-kilter and uninviting to truly succeed in telling its story.


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