Her Smell ★★★★

A day after Judy inspired me to say I was sick of “biopics that focus exclusively on the miserable final months of great artists, with occasional flashbacks to the ‘glory days’ that reveal how they never were all that glorious” I wound up putting on this fictional movie about a great artist in the depths of addiction. You couldn’t ask for a better illustration of Ebert’s old rule about the fact that it’s not what a movie’s about, it’s how it’s about it.

While Judy is hemmed in by all kinds of things — the historical record, fans expectations, Renee Zellweger having to do as much impersonating as acting — Her Smell can explore all of the same ideas about fame, addiction, family, and abuse without those restrictions. It can also be a lot more abrasive and confrontational without fear of offending the surviving relatives of its subject. (And whoa doggy does this movie get right up in your face in the first couple scenes. It practically dares you to turn it off in the first 30 minutes.) Plus, because Becky Something is a fictional creation, there’s no guarantee how her story will turn out, which means the film is so much more suspenseful in its final scenes.