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Elisabeth Moss has a long talk with a somewhat less-than-present conversation partner, to which Moss herself brings a certain wired tension. Her physical posture, upright even as her voice frays with exhaustion, indicates as much as do her words a new resolve to do better than she’s done as a caretaker. Having run out of things to say to a person about whom she holds complicated feelings, Moss finds in memory a piece of music to communicate a love and a passion it can be almost unbearably painful to admit. With limited instrumental backing and in an unbroken shot meant to communicate a building arc of catharsis, she sings a song about heaven.
Would you believe that scene has played out onscreen twice this year already?
Episode - Handmaid - Tale - Film - Smell
Both the most recent episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and the 2019 film “Her Smell” aim for an emotional knockout punch by tasking Moss with using a brief bit of song to sell revolutionary change within her character. In “Her Smell,” it’s an astounding, bravura bit of acting, supported by the choices director Alex Ross Perry makes in constructing the scene, and by the film buttressing it. That it’s at once so similar to the scene from “The Handmaid’s Tale” and so far superior emphasizes just how much Hulu’s signature drama, meandering through a cyclical story it doesn’t know how to conclude, has slipped away from the emotionally compelling show it was in its early going, and how reliant it is on Moss carrying iffy scripts across the finish line by strength of will.
'The Handmaid's Tale' Team on Making Washington D.C. 'Gilead on Steroids'
Moss - Show - Emmy - Way - Similarities
And Moss, on the show for which she’s already won an Emmy, gets most of the way there. While some of the similarities between the two scenes feel either like purposeful homage or...
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