Spike Jonze? Check. Joaquin Phoenix? Check. Interesting plot that seemed like it was going to be a look at how we humans connect with others in the technology-ridden modern age? Check. The film’s trailer hit a cord inside of me that usually doesn’t get strung. I have been looking forward to seeing this film for several months now, and I finally got around to checking it out.
Synopsis: Her follows Theodore, a complex, soulful man who makes his living writing touching, personal letters for other people. Heartbroken after the end of a long relationship, he becomes intrigued with a new, advanced operating system.
The cinematography done by Hoyte Van Hoytema (The Fighter) was simply beautiful. This movie looked very soft and used a lot of pink and red color schemes, which caused it to look very surreal. The production designer, K.K. Barrett (Adaptation), created a world set in the near future, and it feels so authentic that you couldn’t help but think that we are going to be coming to that reality soon.
The screenplay written by Spike Jonze (Where the Wild Things Are) was nothing short of spectacular. He was able to write a story about having a relationship with an artificial intelligence and not succumb to making it a satire. Jonze infused hilarious moments and heartbreaking ones which didn’t counteract each other and that actually worked quite well together.
The story itself tugged at my heartstrings. Hard. It was very touching and I have to admit I did tear up a few times during the film. Unlike a lot of mainstream romance films, none of the elements of a relationship in this movie were whimsical or unrealistic. The story was simply real. The characters went through many struggles that real life couples do. Though this film was heartbreaking, Jonze included quite a bit of comedy, though he did tone it down from the amount usually present in his movies.
Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) plays Theodore, a man suffering from the end of a long relationship with the love of his life. Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation) plays Samantha, a state of the art artificial intelligence that is assigned to Theo. Rooney Mara (The Social Network) plays Catherine, Theo’s ex-wife. Amy Adams (American Hustle) plays Amy, who is one of Theo’s best friends. Phoenix always has puts his heart into the many roles which he has played over the years, and he continues to do so in this film. His performance as Theo was genuine and real. I could really feel his pain, and his joy. Johansson does great work here, not all actors are cut out for voice acting but she sure his. Amy Adams’ took a huge turn here from her usual typecast roles and that impressed me very much.
One of my favorite aspects of this film was Theo’s job as a personal letter writer. It is a sad, hard truth. We as a society have become more and more dependent on technology. I think that this element of the film is a very subtle poke at where society is heading in the future. We are slowly losing the personal touch that makes us all human. I know people who would rather chat over text than in person. I really could see the reality of Her becoming ours.
Another aspect of the movie I enjoyed was how it was able to convey thought to audiences. There were many scenes where the audience was brought into the main characters mind and it’s the most accurate way I’ve seen thought being portrayed on screen.
Her is an internally and externally beautiful film. Theo’s story is so true and human that I think it is impossible to go through this film without tearing up at least once. This is easily one of the best films that were released in 2013. Between the writing, performances, direction, cinematography I could not think of one aspect that I didn’t enjoy. If you have not seen this movie yet, I recommend checking it out.
Director: Spike Jonze
Screenplay: Spike Jonze
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Rooney Mara, Amy Adams, Chris Pratt, Olivia Wilde, Matt Letscher