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Non-Review Review: Her Smell

This film was seen as part of the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival 2019. Given the high volumes of films being shown and the number of reviews to be written, these may end up being a bit shorter than usual reviews.

Put frankly, Her Smell stinks.

To be fair, there’s some interesting material here. film has long been obsessed with stories about fame and celebrity, particularly when filtered through the lens of tragedy and recovery. After all, A Star is Born roared to life as the early frontrunner in this year’s awards race, while Vox Lux provided a darker and weirder meditation on similar themes. Her Smell is very much a companion piece to these other films, a meditation on what fame does to a person, how strange it is. Her Smell is the story of a washed up punk rocker who inevitably collides with rock bottom, and yet somehow finds a way to keep going despite (or perhaps because of) the love of the people around her.

It is interesting to note that “Becky She” hits rock bottom and just keeps going, because this feels like an adequate assessment of Her Smell. Alex Ross Perry’s latest film is two hours and fifteen minutes long, and feels every single one of them. The movie has one single point that it keeps hammering again and again and again, one particular rhythm that it keeps playing again and again and again. Scenes within the film are interminable of themselves, but somehow repeated again and again and again. However, this shallow repetition is not the biggest problem with Her Smell, it’s the combination of that shallow repetition with a smug satisfaction, the cocky assuredness that underscores every single moment.

Her Smell is a dull and lifeless movie convinced of (and insistent upon) its own profundity. Roger Ebert famously argued that no good movie is too long and no bad movie is too short. One could cut two hours from Her Smell and it would still be fifteen minutes too long.

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