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Her Smell

Elisabeth Moss stars as the lead singer of ‘90s girl-punk band in a tale of addiction, despair, and rebirth, now in theaters.

Alissa Wilkinson covers film and culture for Vox. Alissa is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.

Metacritic score: 69

In Her Smell, Elisabeth Moss is the mesmerizing whirling dervish Becky Something, the strung-out lead singer of a ’90s riot grrrl group called Something She. Shot in long, smoky, kinetic segments, the film chronicles Becky’s lowest point and slow climb out of addiction and despair. It’s thrilling, funny, and heartbreaking, with an unforgettable performance by Moss.

Her Smell seems at times bent on deconstructing the mythology of the rockstar, the self-destructive genius whose romance and inspiration lies in havoc. Maybe, the film suggests, there’s more to it than that. Though it’s not always easy to watch — seeing someone try so hard to ruin their own life can be excruciating — the film’s march toward something like peace, however tenuous, for Becky makes it an empathetic rather than mean-spirited look at the cost of celebrity, and the possibility of returning to the land of the living.

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