“Her Smell” is so indie-glamorous, so thrillingly 1990s in the best possible way that it might as well have starred Christina Ricci or Sarah Polley. Its narrative arc is fragmented, following the tumultuous downward spiral of a rock singer caught in the throes of alcoholism, drug addiction and egotism run rampant, but it’s all held together by a stunning, ferocious performance by the always-excellent Elisabeth Moss. Even by her own standards, this is a truly electrifying performance for the talented performer, who embodies each shot here like an untamed force of nature. In some ways, I was reminded of Jennifer Jason Leigh’s uncomfortably believable performance in 1995’s “Georgia,” with both performers tearing through their respective roles as quasi-tragic singers and so vividly alive on the screen that you can’t take your eyes off them. At 135 minutes, it’s perhaps a little on the overlong side, but the viewer’s patience is rewarded with a memorable, extraordinarily well-acted character study that transcends the cinematic traps of its subject matter by contrasting bombastic outbursts with equally compelling serenity.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)