Her Smell ★★★★

There are artists whose early achievements were so important and significant to us that despite years of self-destructive behavior and half-efforts at returning to their former glory, we continue to hope against hope that they will achieve the self-assured, sober frame of mind we believe was central in producing the art we hold dear. ‘Her Smell’ lives in this desire and its contradictions, in the lives of those closest to the rock star in question: band mates, family members, managers, and fellow musicians, all who endure Becky’s violent eruptions and continuously pull the wool over their own eyes for the small chance of everyone regaining what once was.

The result is a far more compelling portrait of a precarious rock star than the other recent, more high profile films with a similar subject. Elizabeth Moss is excellent as Becky, whose artistry and musical identity is inextricably linked to her own annihilation. The tense and precarious nature of Becky’s story is accompanied by a score which can be perfectly described using the same adjectives, and Alex Ross Perry’s direction and impressive long takes further contribute to the effective and often stressful atmosphere. The journey is wrought with anxiety and frustrations, but in the end we revel in the quiet, inward victory that comes with learning and accepting that our own limitations must take priority over the world’s expectations.