Her Smell – TIFF 2018 Review

It’s safe to say that Alex Ross Perry has quite the odd track record as of late. From writing Disney’s PG-Rated Christopher Robin, to directing the mumble-core-inspired dark comedy Listen Up Philip, it’s great to see young directors play with variety and genres so early in their respective career. Keep in mind that Perry just recently entered the film circuit, directing-wise, merely less than 10 years ago with his grunge styled feature debut Impolex, an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity Rainbow. In comes Her Smell, his latest and dare I say his most audacious work to date, that not only encapsulates what Perry’s previous films did style wise, but also added more content and subtlety to the mix.

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To the rapid long takes filmed on celluloid, to the eerie ambient sound design of the secret life inside the green room, there’s so much depth and improvement in this film compared to Perry’s previous work. As much as I liked Queen of Earth, there’s still plenty of scenes that lacked attention when it came to pacing and focus. In Her Smell, Alex knocks it out of the park, keeping each scene at a perfect momentum, like a metronome, in which the film never dragged throughout it’s two hour and fifteen minute run time. For a film which relies mainly on dialogue to drive it’s plot, this is a huge achievement. Even some of the best known filmmaker’s which focus on dialogue heavy films, fail in the process attempting to do this, such as Woody Allen’s more recent flicks, which become annoying and repetitive within the first 15 minutes of their respective run time. 

Not to mention the great Elisabeth Moss. Although her filmography is certainly exceptional, with terrific work such as The Handmaid’s Tale, Top of the Lake, The One I Love, and The Square, I feel like it’s also safe to note that her performance as Becky Something in Her Smell is top tier acting. The way Moss delivers each mannerism and facial expression feels lifelike, to the point where the film nearly felt like a documentary at times. Moss carries this film with her stunning work, with a performance which we rarely see nowadays.

Of course with most of Perry’s projects, his writing style can sometimes come off as overly condescending and full of itself. While Her Smell is still a big offender to this problem, and does take some of the drive away from the end product, I still feel like Her Smell is Alex Ross Perry’s best work to date.  The way the film was divided in 5 different chapters gave each sequence a small space to breath before moving to the next part, making the flow feel well choreographed and intricate. It’s a a messy gorilla inspired film that manages to feel unique and pure. The songs rocked hard, the cinematography felt dirty and organic, the performances felt lifelike and human. Heck, even mother-fucking Cara Delevingne did a stellar job. Her Smell perfectly represents the feeling of going to a rock concert. It’s crowded, messy, but most importantly, an emotional roller-coaster.

8/10

“Gunpowder And Sky Will Release “Her Smell” In 2019″

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