Her Smell

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Her Smell
Moss winking with her tongue out in garish make-up
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAlex Ross Perry
Written byAlex Ross Perry
Produced by
  • Elisabeth Moss
  • Matthew Perniciaro
  • Alex Ross Perry
  • Adam Piotrowicz
  • Michael Sherman
CinematographySean Price Williams
Edited byRobert Greene
Music by
  • Bow and Arrow Entertainment
  • Faliro House Productions
Distributed byGunpowder & Sky
Release dates
  • September 9, 2018 (2018-09-09) (TIFF)
  • April 12, 2019 (2019-04-12) (United States)
Running time
135 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$260,481[2]

Her Smell is a 2018 American drama film written, co-produced and directed by Alex Ross Perry. It stars Elisabeth Moss, Cara Delevingne, Dan Stevens, Agyness Deyn, Gayle Rankin, Ashley Benson, Dylan Gelula, Virginia Madsen and Amber Heard and follows Moss as fictional rock star Becky Something, whose band experiences brief fame but is broken up by her self-destructive behavior.

Her Smell had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2018, and had its general release on April 12, 2019, by Gunpowder & Sky. The film received positive reviews from critics, who particularly praised Moss' acting.


The film is told with five distinct scenes punctuated with some home movie footage from early in the band's career when they were successful—appearing on magazine covers, attending photo shoots, and receiving gold records.

In the first scene, punk rock group Something She wraps up a show and lead vocalist Becky Something (Elisabeth Moss) goes backstage to attend to a brief ceremony with her personal shaman. Her mood swings violently from happy to aggressive as her bandmates, ex-husband, manager, and a former musical collaborator all try to steer her toward positive choices: recording their next album, playing future shows, and finding stability for her child. The scene ends as she turns a corner with her infant in her hands and falls over inebriated, vomiting on herself.

In the second vignette, Something She is in the studio several months later, aimlessly trying to record the band's next album. Drummer Ali van der Wolff (Gayle Rankin) becomes frustrated and quits, followed by bassist Marielle Hell (Agyness Deyn), leaving their manager Howard Goodman (Eric Stoltz) distraught as he tries to clear the space for his new band Akergirls to record. Becky refuses to leave and butts in on their session.

The third scene is set after Akergirls have become famous and Becky is opening their show, with Ali back to support her. She shows up two hours late with a film crew in tow, berating ex-husband Danny (Dan Stevens) and her mother Ania (Virginia Madsen), who are the last persons in her life still willing to put up with her selfishness. When Ania gives her some papers from her estranged father, Becky becomes violently upset and hurls verbal abuse at her mother and assaults Ali before rushing onstage and collapsing in another stupor.

Several years later, Becky is sober and her daughter Tama (Daisy Pugh-Weiss), now a young girl, is coming to visit. As Dan drops her off, he gives his ex some paperwork for some of the many lawsuits facing Becky and tells her that Mari has also come with them. Becky has brief tender moments with all three, but her thinking appears disordered: she believes that leaving her house will kill her and that her love for her daughter will destroy her; she also recounts a dream from a past life that she thinks justifies her cruelty and selfishness toward her ex.

In the final piece, 11 years have passed since Howard first signed Something She and four years since they have performed together, but they have reunited to perform a single song at a showcase event that features all of Howard's popular musical acts. Becky appears nervous and has to rely on all of the musicians performing a seance with her before she can gather her courage to go onstage. She briefly walks away after cryptically thanking all of them for staying with her until the end. Several of her loved ones become concerned, but they find her ready to take the stage and she performs one song with her bandmates and fellow musicians all collaborating. It is successful and they step backstage where Howard tells her the crowd wants more and asks if she has another one in her. Becky says that she is done, embracing Tama and smelling her hair.



In January 2018, it was announced Elisabeth Moss would star in the film, with Alex Ross Perry directing from a screenplay he wrote. Perry and Moss also served as a producers on the film, alongside Matthew Perniciaro, Michael Sherman and Adam Piotrowicz under their Bow and Arrow Entertainment banner.[3] In April 2018, Agyness Deyn, Gayle Rankin and Amber Heard joined the cast of the film.[4][5] In May 2018, it was announced that Ashley Benson, Cara Delevingne, Dan Stevens, Eric Stoltz, Virginia Madsen and Dylan Gelula joined the cast of the film.[6][7] Keegan DeWitt composed the film's score.[8]

Principal photography began on April 23, 2018, in New York City.[9] Production concluded on May 18, 2018.[10]

Moss called the performance her most physically challenging in a 2020 interview for Bullseye with Jesse Thorn.[11]


The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2018.[12] It also screened at the New York Film Festival on September 29, 2018.[13][14] Shortly after, Gunpowder & Sky acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film.[15] It also screened at AFI Fest on November 10, 2018.[16][17] and was screened at South by Southwest in March 2019.[18] It was released on April 12, 2019.[19]


On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 84% based on 137 reviews, and an average rating of 7.3/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Held together by a gripping lead performance from Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell is challenging and admittedly uneven, but ultimately worth the effort."[20] On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 69 out of 100, based on 24 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[21] A. A. Dowd of The A.V. Club gave the film a B+, praising Moss' performance in particular and the film's attempt to de-glamorize the rock and roll lifestyle.[22] The publication later placed it fifty-fifth in their 100 best films of the decade[23] and sixth-best of 2019.[24]

On 27 November 2019, Perry wrote an open letter that premiered on IndieWire urging the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to consider Moss for the Academy Award for Best Actress at their 2020 ceremony.[25]


The film's original rock music was written by Bully's Alicia Bognanno and Anika Pyle along with her bandmates from the band katie ellen, with the score composed by Keegan DeWitt. A promotional music video for "Can't Wait" by Akergirls was released and a 3 vinyl LP of the music was released by Waxwork Records.[26]

Track listing

Two LP score and soundtrack

Side A
  1. "Prologue"
  2. "Act I"
Side B
  1. "Mari"
  2. "Act II Part 1"
  3. "Act II Part 2"
Side C
  1. "Act III"
Side D
  1. "Acts IV & V"
  2. "The End"

Bonus EP of original music

Side A
  1. "Breathe" (Alicia Bognanno) by Something She
  2. "Pulled Down" (Alicia Bognanno) by Becky Something
Side B
  1. "Can't Wait" (Anika Pyle) by Akergirls
  2. "Control" (Alicia Bognanno) by Becky Something


  1. ^ "Her Smell". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  2. ^ "Her Smell". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  3. ^ Hipes, Patrick (January 29, 2018). "Elisabeth Moss & Alex Ross Perry Reteam For His New Film 'Her Smell'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  4. ^ Galuppo, Mia (April 13, 2018). "Agyness Deyn, 'GLOW' Star Gayle Rankin Join Elisabeth Moss in 'Her Smell' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  5. ^ Kroll, Justin (April 25, 2018). "Amber Heard Joins Elisabeth Moss in Drama 'Her Smell' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  6. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 23, 2018). "'Pretty Little Liars' Ashley Benson Signs With ICM Partners". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  7. ^ McNary, Dave (May 8, 2018). "Cara Delevingne, Dan Stevens Join Elisabeth Moss in 'Her Smell'". Variety. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  8. ^ "Keegan DeWitt to Score Alex Ross Perry's 'Her Smell'". FilmMusicReporter. June 8, 2018. Retrieved June 10, 2018.
  9. ^ Moss, Elisabeth (April 23, 2018). "End of day 1 on Her Smell the movie...you can take the girl out of Toronto but you can't take Toronto out of the girl 😘 #GLG". Instagram.com. Archived from the original on 2021-12-24. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  10. ^ Perry, Alex Ross (May 18, 2018). "That's a wrap on HER SMELL". Instagram.com. Archived from the original on 2021-12-24. Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  11. ^ "Elisabeth Moss: Bullseye with Jesse Thorn". Bullseye with Jesse Thorn. June 2, 2020. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  12. ^ Vlessing, Etan (August 8, 2018). "Toronto: Nicole Kidman Starrer 'Destroyer,' Alex Ross Perry's 'Her Smell' Join Festival Lineup". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  13. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (August 7, 2018). "Elisabeth Moss Punk Rock Drama 'Her Smell' to Screen at New York Film Fest". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  14. ^ "Her Smell". New York Film Festival. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  15. ^ Hipes, Patrick (October 4, 2018). "Elisabeth Moss' 'Her Smell' Acquired By Gunpowder & Sky For 2019 Bow". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  16. ^ "Announcing AFI FEST 2018 New Auteurs and American Independents Lineups". American Film Institute. October 4, 2018. Archived from the original on September 6, 2019. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  17. ^ "Her Smell". AFI Fest. Archived from the original on November 4, 2018. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  18. ^ Nolfi, Joey (February 7, 2019). "Pet Sematary remake to world premiere at 2019 SXSW Film Festival". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  19. ^ "Gunpowder & Sky to Release HER SMELL Starring Elisabeth Moss". Broadway World. November 15, 2018. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  20. ^ "Her Smell". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  21. ^ "Her Smell Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  22. ^ Dowd, A. A. (April 9, 2019). "Elisabeth Moss Unleashes Her Inner Courtney Love in the Bravely Abrasive Rock Drama Her Smell". The A.V. Club.
  23. ^ Shoemaker, Allison (November 18, 2019). "The A.V. Club's 100 Best Movies of the 2010s". The A.V. Club. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  24. ^ D'Angelo, Mike (December 16, 2019). "The 25 Best Films of 2019". The A.V. Club. Retrieved December 16, 2019.
  25. ^ Sharf, Zack (November 27, 2019). "Alex Ross Perry Writes Letter Campaigning Elisabeth Moss for Best Actress".
  26. ^ Arcand, Rob (April 20, 2019). "Her Smell Soundtrack to Be Released on Vinyl". Spin. Retrieved May 5, 2019.

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