Chew's Reviews - Her Smell

By Gary Chew |  

The art of cinema primarily appeals to your eye. HER SMELL may well be one of the few movies that first appeals to your nose. Ah yes, the redolence of Elizabeth Moss as Rebecca Something, a success-damaged punk rock star who's grotesque view of existence would cause her to say something so darkly bleak as, “Promise me mama, when I die, have the coffin arrive half an hour late and on the side written in gold letters: “Sorry for the delay.”

Fame and money have been the downfall of many an entertainer. (Elvis first comes to mind.) The list is long, and writer/director Alex Ross Perry stretches it with his authentic-looking tale of an almost over-the-hill rocker of the punk 'n' junk who's slamming her accelerator through the floorboard getting, at least, one more big-seller album out to market. It's an all female band … read the marquee: Something She! No dudes allowed, except for a record producer called Howard, played by a slightly-aged Eric Stoltz.

Moss ... who's face, on seeing the first time, needs to be looked at again and again ... has been making much hay since MAD MEN and she shows no signs of stopping. First out with Wynona Ryder and Angelina Jolie in GIRL, INTERUPTED (2000) Moss has since ascended to the extraordinary series THE HANDMAIDEN'S TALE (Its new season just underway). And now Moss is Becky Something in HER SMELL. In all honesty, I must say that Moss, doing this conflicted character, is really something.

The girls in the band ... which reminds me of another stage play and subsequent film … give solid backup to Moss. The standout and up to the snuff of Moss is British actress Agyness Deyn (Please note the spelling of Ms. Deyn's first name.) Deyn plays the band's bass man. Marielle Hell is what they call her; she's the most androgynous-looking of the band … and the one with the most tender heart.

Crassie Cassie is more a basic metro-sexual looking punk musician --- and quite, uh, svelte ... or maybe that should be, skinny. Cara Delevingne does the role. I first saw Cara in an amazing Luc Besson film that was hardly noticed. You remember the title: VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS from 2017. The eccentric-looking but effective actor Dane DeHaan was the male lead. VALERIAN, for me, is a must see.

Surprise, surprise: a cameo from an sort of old favorite actress of mine I remember so well in the really delightful 2004 film with Paul Giamatti called SIDEWAYS. Yes, that Virginia Madsen. She plays Ania, Becky's mom. It took me a few frames to place Madsen. She's not done so much the last several years. As the mom, Ania and Becky fire off several hurtful and rhetorical rounds at one another.

Extended, intense scenes of grandiose argument overwhelm HER SMELL. Watching all of it made me needing to catch extra breath, and I hadn't moved an inch. The desperation of every character is, on a one-to-ten scale: eleven. Real sweat comes onto the brows of these actors, not merely water and a dash of makeup. The cast pushes hard for the needed effect; but caring for them ... although they need some sympathy ... is difficult to muster. Such a message as this has been sent through many a movie, short story, novel and poem. “Don't wish too much for what you want …. yup … or you'll probably get all of it right between the eyes … even enough to make your nose fall off.” (My quote, by the way)

Oh, and did I mention that the music in this movie really stinks?

Copyright © 2019 by Gary Chew. All rights reserved.


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