Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Alex Ross Perry|
|Written by||Alex Ross Perry|
|Cinematography||Sean Price Williams|
|Edited by||Robert Greene|
|Distributed by||Gunpowder & Sky|
Her Smell is a 2018 American drama film written, co-produced and directed by Alex Ross Perry. It stars Elisabeth Moss, Cara Delevingne, Dan Stevens, Agyness Deyn, Gayle Rankin, Ashley Benson, Dylan Gelula, Virginia Madsen and Amber Heard and follows Moss as fictional rock star Becky Something, whose band experiences brief fame but is broken up by her self-destructive behavior. The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2018 and had its general release on April 12, 2019, by Gunpowder & Sky. The film has received positive reviews from critics.
The film is told with five distinct scenes punctuated with some home movie footage from early in the band's career when they were successful—appearing on magazine covers, attending photo shoots, and receiving gold records.
In the first scene, punk rock group Something She wraps up a show and lead vocalist Becky Something (Elisabeth Moss) goes backstage to attend to a brief ceremony with her personal shaman. Her mood swings violently from happy to aggressive as her bandmates, ex-husband, manager, and a former musical collaborator all try to steer her toward positive choices: recording their next album, playing future shows, and finding stability for her child. The scene ends as she turns a corner with her infant in her hands and falls over inebriated, puking on herself.
In the second vignette, Something She is in the studio several months later, aimlessly trying to record the band's next album. Drummer Ali van der Wolff (Gayle Rankin) becomes frustrated and quits, followed by bassist Marielle Hell (Agyness Deyn), leaving their manager Howard Goodman (Eric Stoltz) distraught as he tries to clear the space for his new band Akergirls to record. Becky refuses to leave and butts in on their session.
The third scene is set after Akergirls have become famous and Becky is opening their show, with Ali back to support her. She shows up two hours late with a film crew in tow, berating ex-husband Danny (Dan Stevens) and her mother Ania (Virginia Madsen), who are the last persons in her life willing to put up with her selfishness. When Ania gives her some papers from her estranged father, Becky becomes violently upset and hurls verbal abuse at her mother and assaults Ali before rushing onstage and collapsing in another stupor.
Several years later, Becky is sober and her daughter Tama (Daisy Pugh-Weiss) is a young girl coming to visit. As Dan drops her off, he gives his ex some paperwork for some of the many lawsuits facing Becky and tells her that Mari has also come with them. Becky has brief tender moments with all three but her thinking appears disordered: she believes that leaving her house will kill her and that her love for her daughter will destroy her; she also recounts a dream from a past life that she thinks justifies her cruelty and selfishness toward her ex.
In the final piece, 11 years have passed since Howard first signed Something She and four years since they have performed together but they have reunited to perform a single song at a showcase event that features all of Howard's popular musical acts. Becky appears nervous and has to rely on all of the musicians performing a seance with her before she can gather her courage to go onstage. She briefly walks away after cryptically thanking all of them for staying with her until the end. Several of her loved ones become concerned but they find her ready to take the stage and she performs one song with her bandmates and fellow musicians all collaborating. It is successful and they step backstage where Howard tells her the crowd wants more and asks if she has another one in her. Becky says that she is done, embracing Tama and smelling her hair.
- Elisabeth Moss as Becky Something, lead singer of Something She
- Amber Heard as Zelda E. Zekiel, a musician who was a mentor of Something whom she later spited
- Cara Delevingne as Crassie Cassie, a member of Akergirls
- Dan Stevens as Danny Something, Becky's ex-husband
- Agyness Deyn as Marielle Hell, bassist for Something She
- Gayle Rankin as Ali van der Wolff, drummer for Something She
- Ashley Benson as Roxie Rotten, a member of Akergirls
- Eric Stoltz as Howard Goodman, manager for all of the musicians
- Virginia Madsen as Ania Adamcyzk, Becky's mother
- Dylan Gelula as Dottie O.Z., a member of Akergirls
- Eka Darville as Ya-ema, Becky's shaman and later convict
- Lindsay Burdge as Lauren, Mari's love interest
- Keith Poulson as Roy, Ali's husband
- Alexis Krauss as Vivvy, a musician backstage at the reunion show
- Craig Butta as Greg, a studio engineer
- Hannah Gross as Tiffany, Dan's second wife
- Daisy Pugh-Weiss as Tama, Becky and Dan's daughter
In January 2018, it was announced Elisabeth Moss would star in the film, with Alex Ross Perry, directing from a screenplay he wrote. Perry and Moss will also serve as a producers on the film, alongside Matthew Perniciaro, Michael Sherman and Adam Piotrowicz under their Bow and Arrow Entertainment banner. In April 2018, Agyness Deyn, Gayle Rankin and Amber Heard joined the cast of the film. In May 2018, it was announced that Ashley Benson, Cara Delevingne, Dan Stevens, Eric Stoltz, Virginia Madsen and Dylan Gelula joined the cast of the film. Keegan DeWitt will compose the films score.
The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2018. It also screened at the New York Film Festival on September 29, 2018. Shortly after, Gunpowder & Sky acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film. It also screened at AFI Fest on November 10, 2018. and was screened at South by Southwest in March 2019. It was released on April 12, 2019.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 85% based on 85 reviews, and an average rating of 7.33/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Held together by a gripping lead performance from Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell is challenging and admittedly uneven, but ultimately worth the effort." On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 70 out of 100, based on 17 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". A. A. Dowd of The A.V. Club gave the film a B+, praising Moss' performance in particular and the film's attempt to de-glamorize the rock and roll lifestyle.
The film's original rock music was written by Bully's Alicia Bognanno with the score composed by Keegan DeWitt. A promotional music video for "Can't Wait" by Akergirls was released and a vinyl LP of the music is set to be released by Waxworks Records.
Two LP score and soundtrack
- Side A
- "Act Ⅰ"
- Side B
- "Act ⅠⅠ Part 1"
- "Act ⅠⅠ Part 2"
- Side C
- "Act ⅠⅠⅠ"
- Side D
- "Acts ⅠV & V"
- "The End"
Bonus EP of original music
- Side A
- "Breathe" (Alicia Bognanno) by Something She
- "Pulled Down" (Alicia Bognanno) by Becky Something
- Side B
- "Can't Wait" (Anika Pyle) by Akergirls
- "Control" (Alicia Bognanno) by Becky Something
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- Kroll, Justin (April 25, 2018). "Amber Heard Joins Elisabeth Moss in Drama 'Her Smell' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
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- Ross Perry, Alex (May 18, 2018). "That's a wrap on HER SMELL". Instagram.com. Retrieved May 20, 2018.
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- "Her Smell". New York Film Festival. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
- Hipes, Patrick (October 4, 2018). "Elisabeth Moss' 'Her Smell' Acquired By Gunpowder & Sky For 2019 Bow". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
- "Announcing AFI FEST 2018 New Auteurs and American Independents Lineups". American Film Institute. October 4, 2018. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
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- Nolfi, Joey (February 7, 2019). "Pet Sematary remake to world premiere at 2019 SXSW Film Festival". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
- News Desk, TV (November 15, 2018). "Gunpowder & Sky to Release HER SMELL Starring Elisabeth Moss". Broadway World. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
- "Her Smell". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
- "Her Smell Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
- Dowd, A. A. (April 9, 2019). "Elisabeth Moss Unleashes Her Inner Courtney Love in the Bravely Abrasive Rock Drama Her Smell". The A.V. Club.
- Arcand, Rob (April 20, 2019). "Her Smell Soundtrack to Be Released on Vinyl". Spin. Retrieved May 5, 2019.