Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Her

Long before Spike Jonze entered in the film industry with his great 1999 feature Being John Malkovich, his day job was directing music videos. From directing classics such as Buddy Holly by Weezer, Sabotage by Beastie Boys and Praise You by Fatboy Slim, Jonze's unique quirky visual flair was already apparent. Being John Malkcovich led to Adaptation which led to Where the Wild Things Are, a film that was bold, often frightening and not at all what many viewers expected. Then, after a 4 year absence at directing feature films, Spike Jonze's latest one was finally released. However, does Jonze's fourth feature film live up to the brief, yet impressive work so far?


Directed by Spike Jonze and out now on Blu-Ray and DVD comes Her; a tale that's, on the surface, about loneliness, depression, virtual love, and a society on the brink of losing touch with each other. Set slightly in the future, Her stars Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore Twombly, an introverted and shy man whose job comprises of writting touching letters for people who, for whatever reason, don't want to. This is our first insight into this very unpersonal world, a world in which people literally pay others to show emotion. In his own personal life Theodore is going through a divorce with his estranged wife, something that was initiated by her that he is reluctant to move forward with. In this bubble of loneliness Theodore decides to purchase a new Operating System, one that was designed to learn and evolve over time. Once the OS has booted up she, speaking with the sultry voice of Scarlett Johansson, and Theodore begin to talk about everything from life to dating. Through their conversations together Theodore not only builds up a relationship with her, but also ultimately starts dating her. Her basically focuses on this budding human and artificial intelligence relationship, and all the moral and ethical questions that surround it.


Her presents us with a world not completely unlike our own. Everyone is invested in his or her phone, humans have become far less social, and with the rise of the artificially intelligent OS, it seems like the final nail in the coffin for face to face contact in here. However, while most films would beat us over the head about how this would spell DOOM! for humanity, Her doesn't. Theodore's OS is smart, sexy, funny and intelligent, and while she may not be real, she serves his needs perfectly. But the missing element is human contact, the very basis of our species, and though the film doesn't ram it down our throats, it becomes quite evident near the end. This missing element of Theodore's needs is instead fulfilled by Amy, a friend of Theodore's, and probably his last positive link to the world of interacting with a female of any kind.


Her is a simple film with big ideas, but the real power comes from the understated, real and fantastic performances throughout. Phoenix as Theodore is perfect, and is a character that just feels real, as if right now he's out there, somewhere. The surprising performance here is Johansson as Samantha, Theodore's OS. She's not some mindless entity trapped inside a computer. She's a person like you or me, has her own personality, questions choices Theodore is taking and even spurs him on the do things he wouldn't have otherwise even dared to do. Phoenix and Johansson’s scenes together are just perfect, and quite literally make the film. What appears to be quite a saddening tale of loneliness ultimately becomes one that is uplifting, though provoking and hopeful. Through wonderful cinematography, a perfect cast, a lovely little score by Arcade Fire and a world design that look authentic, Her impresses in leaps and bounds.

Her will install itself onto your heart and gets a 5/5.

[★★★★★]

Denis Murphy


Her at CeX



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