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The always excellent Elisabeth Moss plays self-destrcutive punk rocker Becky something in Her Smell, the lastest film from American auteur director Alex Ross Perry.

Courtesy of TIFF

  • Her Smell
  • Written and directed by: Alex Ross Perry
  • Starring: Elisabeth Moss
  • Classification: R; 134 minutes

rating

2 out of 4 stars

In the backstage scene that opens Her Smell, punk rocker Becky Something viciously insults her bandmates while performing a voodoo ceremony to curse her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend – all in front of her baby daughter. The next scene features more chaos at a recording studio; the third includes a preconcert fight during which Becky holds a broken bottle to her drummer’s throat.

Those three extended sequences, recorded by a ceaselessly moving camera, make up more than half of this bafflingly unbalanced film by American auteur director Alex Ross Perry (Queen of Earth, Golden Exits). The toxic Becky, played by the always excellent Elisabeth Moss in a tour de force performance that holds passionately to the character’s ugly depths, does find redemption in the shorter second half. Viewers, however, may be so exhausted they won’t see the point in sticking with her – particularly when Perry concludes that the musician’s destructive persona is the mask she must wear to go on stage, an interpretation of performance that plays to noxious clichés about art and artists.

Her Smell opens April 12 at the TIFF Lightbox in Toronto.

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