A Look at Moss and the Music in Alex Ross Perry’s ‘Her Smell’

Nina Di Salvo
9 min readSep 8, 2020
Elisabeth Moss as Becky Something/Rebecca in “Her Smell”, 2018

Alex Ross Perry has a knack for creating captivating, unlikable characters that disgust, repulse, and keep us curious all within a single moment. Each project becomes a series of sequences that follow a misfit as they stumble through the world, holding nothing but their estranged personalities and a giant ‘why’ over their foreheads as they stare, strangely, at everyone else existing. As we attentively watch each film, we witness the sad justification for the terrible, or terribly awkward, things they do — discovering just how far-removed their watches are from everyone else’s crisply synced clocks.

His latest subject, Becky Something, is the leader of a punk rock band called Something She (a band on the verge of a breakdown) who struggles with self-obsession and destruction, addiction, her career, and motherhood. Through the investigation of Becky’s character — that deterioration, rise, fall, and climb — we’re offered an opportunity to experience that chaos and cleanse alongside her. This ‘band drama’ begins after all of their goals, collectively, have been met — success has been won. Meanwhile, Becky finds herself consumed by supplementary addictions that drown out her insecurities, which still exist despite the fans, success, and money. After completely breaking down, she reaches a quiet period of tranquility, stability, and self-reflection, only to be offered another opportunity to dip once again… addiction, in all its forms (substances, work, people), is a constant battle for leverage. It’s not a championship game you win and move on from.

Something She bandmates in “Her Smell”, 2018

In Her Smell, we see a world made up of bones and glitter, dungeon hums, stuck-out tongues, and smashed glass, as the main character, Becky, straddles her dysfunctional rocking horse — taking a wild ride to nowhere. Becky, a woman with childlike intuition and a shifty disposition that forms and reforms quicker than it takes most people to blink, is fully embodied by Moss, whose transformation into this erratic, compulsive, self-destructive character is absolutely intoxicating. Equal in her level of believability and shock, Moss’s performance is almost humorous in its level of commitment…

Nina Di Salvo

Every day is #FemaleFilmmakerFriday