Written and directed by Alex Ross Perry, Her Smell details the less-than-savory exploits of a hard-living rock star named Becky (Elisabeth Moss) – with the film unfolding over a very small series of scenes encompassing everything from a raucous concert to a tense recording session to a quiet afternoon at home. Filmmaker Perry kicks Her Smell off with a long and somewhat interminable sequence detailing the behind-the-scenes happenings within the aforementioned concert – with the loud, context-free atmosphere ensuring that this stretch is, mostly, off-putting and headache-inducing. The viewer is subsequently (and persistently) prevented from connecting to either the material or the characters by Perry’s aggressively overwhelming, in-your-face modus operandi, and it’s worth noting, too, that the change of scenery every 20 minutes or so does little to alleviate the pervasively uninvolving atmosphere – as the filmmaker infuses every inch of Her Smell with a repetitive feel that’s compounded by a heavy emphasis on acrimonious arguments and shouting matches. (And it certainly doesn’t help that a large portion of the movie’s dialogue is rendered unintelligible by the muddy, wall-of-sound audio design.) Moss’ ferocious but meaningless performance is ultimately unable to pack the visceral punch Perry has obviously intended, and it’s certainly impossible to work up any real interest in her character’s hopelessly uninvolving arc – which ultimately confirms Her Smell‘s place as an ambitious trainwreck with few attributes worth embracing.
* out of ****