Recovery Unplugged went to the movies to take in the gritty, unflinching and painfully realistic “Her Smell” starring The Handmaid’s Tale’s Elizabeth Moss; a film that chronicles the decline, addiction and incredible music of a fictional, but very familiar, punk queen. Here’s what we took from the experience.
Music and addiction have have had an unfortunate relationship in popular culture for decades. From grandparents to teenagers, we can all name a rock star or musician lost too soon to drugs or alcohol. “Sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll” is as ingrained in our heads as the Pledge of Allegiance…maybe even moreso, depending upon where we come from. As frequently as these themes have been depicted in art and life, Alex Ross Perry’s movie “Her Smell” finds a way to tell a fresh and heartbreaking story with them.
“Her Smell” brings us straight into the life of punk impresario Becky Something (Elisabeth Moss), an influential rock star struggling to perform and keep it together while sinking deeper into addiction. With her band mates, manager, and young daughter all depending on her for their livelihoods, Becky fights to maintain her musical career, while falling further into the throes of her instability. The height of the narrative and Becky’s “rock bottom” erupt together in a violent, raw and captivating meltdown in front of her remaining fans, leaving her new band mates speechless and her manager stressing out about everyone’s future.
No more spoilers except to say that the uncomfortable, explosive and simultaneously captivating themes and performances in the film are punctuated with a beautifully brutal original soundtrack. Choice and representative phrases from Becky’s notebook include such selections as: “I always flirt with death,” “I think I’m on another world,” and “If I’m gonna be pulled down, then I’m taking you with me.”
Without telling too much of Becky’s story, the latter part of the movie reveals her true identity, Rebecca Adamczyk, a woman that she “doesn’t even know…nobody has seen her since [she] was 16.” Does she recognize the stranger she became? Does Rebecca finally realize that Becky managed to hurt every person around her? Is she willing to own her role in the downward spiral of her life? Watch “Her Smell” to find out. It’s not a light movie, rather a very real depiction of the hardships with which many active and recovering addicts are faced, and how their art, health and life suffer in the wake of substance abuse.