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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Effort can help overcome past mistakes and behavior; even those who are very flawed can atone for their sins and try to be more responsible and respectful.
Positive Role Models
Becky Something may be a great character, but she's no role model. She's awful through most of the movie and terribly flawed, but she does try hard to overcome her drug and alcohol abuse and her mistreatment of others. She tries to atone for her sins and tries to be more responsible and respectful.
Violence & Scariness
Main character breaks a bottle and threatens others with it. Some blood shown. She falls and sports a bleeding head wound. General yelling, chaos, smashing, etc.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing in several scenes.
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Fairly frequent use of "f--k," "s--t," "bulls--t." A couple uses of "c--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drinking is said to contribute to the main character's downfall, and some drinking is shown (by her and others), but viewers rarely actually see her drink. Years later she's declared "a year sober." A supporting character has a cocaine habit. Cigarette smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Her Smell is a drama about the lead singer of a fictional band who spirals out of control and then tries to pick up the pieces. It's tough to watch -- especially the erratic, headache-inducing first half -- but eventually Elisabeth Moss' strong, dynamic performance wins the day. Expect plenty of mature material: The main character is said to have an addiction problem (though she's rarely seen actually drinking or doing drugs), a secondary character snorts cocaine, and people smoke cigarettes. Language is strong and frequent, including "f--k," "s--t," and more. A broken bottle is brandished (some blood), and a character falls and sustains a bloody head wound. Two women kiss in several scenes. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
After a headache-inducing first half, this erratic, overlong drama slows down and grabs a breath, and it's possible to see that Moss' volcanic, 5,000-degree performance is the real thing. Viewers who make it through the first half of Alex Ross Perry's Her Smell will be rewarded, but it isn't easy. An hour or so of screen time is marred by crazy camerawork; a droning, thumping sound design; and screechy, theatrical performances. Dialogue that should sound spontaneous instead sounds written and rehearsed, like a ranting, rejected stage play. It's all extremely high-pitched and exhausting.
But when the story cuts to years later, with Becky slowly, methodically making a cup of tea and staring into the middle distance (waiting for a chicken-shaped kitchen timer to tell her the tea is steeped), the performance finally begins to take shape. The movie and the character become grounded, and the range and intensity of Moss' work recalls nothing less than Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind and A Streetcar Named Desire. Her Smell tries for a victorious ending, and it doesn't entirely click, but by that point Moss has completely won us over.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.