A character study which features a Shakespearean-level descent into utter degradation and self-destruction, Alex Ross Perry's Your Smell is a dynamic deconstruction of the toxic nature which the performative practice of brand building and celebrity has on personal identity; a film that is so subtle in its thematic intent that its abrasive aesthetic designs provide the perfect counterbalance to its underlying sensitivity, subverting the viewers ability to see the film's underlying intent throughout much of its running time, as clarity only truly presents itself in the film's final denouncement. Featuring a dynamic, combustible lead performance by the always superb Elizabeth Moss, Her Smell tells the story of the self-destructive lead vocalist of a punk rock band, a character who erratically destroys every meaningful relationship in her life through her manic, destructive behavior. The central node in a network of relationships, everything stemming from music producers to her own mother, this character'wields extensive power, giving her an ability to inflict pain on all those around her, as one gets the sense that her destructive behavior is diabolical by design towards all those connected to her. For much of the film's running time, this character is far from sympathetic, with the film's style perfectly encapsulating her behavior, with editing, sound, and visual designs evoking a sense of dissonance, an organized chaos that perfectly aligns with this character's destructive behavior. Than things change, not only in the course of the narrative but also in style and aesthetic, as the film expertly subverts expectations revealing a character in its lead protagonist that is more tragic and sympathetic than one could have ever imagined given what has transpired. The pieces are there, even early on, yet it's the subtle construction of the narrative that keeps the viewer largely surprised to the emotional attachment they have to this character's well-being in its final act, as one beings to realize this is a character who was always alone, unable to manage the vast amount of responsibility thrust on her, an individual unfairly placed in the center of a vast network of individuals who rely on her to bring them success. Her Smell reveals through its clever construction an individual who lacks identity, one whose been tasked with supplying a performative image which her vast network of music producers, band mates, and own family rely on and mismanage, as they forget the underlying identity of this character whose punk rock persona wont allow anything but crude individualism and rejection of support. While much discussion of this film revolves around Moss' intoxicating lead performance, and rightfully so, Her Smell deserves more credit for its clever construction and thematic designs, being a complete film in which narrative, thematic, and stylistic construction deserve more credit than many are willing to admit.
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