Her: Transcendent but accessible 

click to enlarge scena-her-jonze.png

The first thing I want you to know about Her, the best movie of 2013, is that it is not about technology. It's about how people relate, and right now we do a lot of our relating through the use of various high-tech devices. Her prominently features a high-tech device, but it's about the relationship between a writer that lives in LA and the person that lives in the device.

The second thing I want you to know is that the person in the device is, in fact, a person. She may have been designed by humans, but she is a reflective individual that questions her place in the scheme of things. Some reviewers have compared her to Siri, the Apple application that speaks to users. They are so wrong.

Filmmaker Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Where the Wild Things Are) has crafted a sweet, sad, fascinating relationship story and a thoughtful piece of speculative fiction. Her is transcendent while remaining accessible. After directing two films based on Charlie Kaufman screenplays, and one co-written with Dave Eggers, Jonze has made a story all his own, an original love story that looks into the near future and sees a warm place where hearts still break, but hope remains strong.

Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a pleasant, vaguely melancholic fellow who works as a writer at BeautifulHandwrittenLetters.com, dictating artfully phrased messages for his clients into the voice recognition interface of his office computer, which reproduces his words in cursive that almost looks handwritten. Whether his job is poetic or creepy is open to debate, but it is undeniably feasible.

The quiet life of recently-divorced Theodore changes when he purchases the latest Next Big Thing in technology — the OS1, a self-aware computer operating system that learns and grows from its experiences. He opts for a female voice, and with that his relationship with the freshly sentient Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) begins.

Samantha is a wonderful companion — charming, inquisitive, playful and supportive, with instant access to an unimaginable amount of information. Theodore communicates with her via his earpiece. He shows her the world by carrying his old-timey-looking handheld computer in his shirt pocket where its camera-eye is able to peek out (he uses a safety pin to keep the lens high enough).

Amy Adams plays Theodore's best friend. Chris Pratt plays his likeable boss and Rooney Mara his ex-wife. They're all very good. Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson are great. Forget Phoenix's off-putting late-night talk show performance art, he's rejoined humanity and creates a soulful, sympathetic character. Credit Johansson for fitting perfectly into her role, even though her part was recorded after filming was complete, replacing Samantha Morton's meeker take on the character.

The near-future Los Angeles presented in Her is optimistic, a creative mix of exterior shots taken in LA and Shanghai. Interiors are colorful and inviting; burnished wood abounds. The fashions are credible, even the high-waisted wool pants. Arcade Fire provides music. Spike Jonze provides the aesthetic, which is refreshingly guileless. Free of ironic posturing, the film looks at love, loss and the resilient nature of the spirit, while gently following its speculative tale to a logical conclusion. Her is one for the ages.

Rated R · 120 min. · 2013
Official Site: www.herthemovie.com
Director: Spike Jonze
Writer: Spike Jonze
Producer: Megan Ellison, Vincent Landay and Spike Jonze
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, Amy Adams, Samantha Morton, Caroline Jaden Stussi, Laura Meadows and Portia Doubleday

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What others are saying (21)

Tucson Weekly Alone, Together Spike Jonze's latest film perfectly reflects the digital age we live in by Colin Boyd 01/09/2014
The North Coast Journal Weekly Intelligence Delving into the hearts of men by John J. Bennett 01/16/2014
The Coast Halifax Her She and him by Tara Thorne 01/09/2014
18 more reviews...
Westword Artful performances transcend Her's obvious metaphors The terrible reality of modern life is that even beautiful young people on a first date can't go a whole evening without checking their phones. Just allowing the present to happen has become increasingly foreign. That's the idea Spike Jonze is scratching at in his futuristic romance Her, in which... by Amy Nicholson 01/09/2014
Boise Weekly Her: No Body is Perfect Now playing at The Flicks by George Prentice 01/08/2014
The North Coast Journal Weekly Highlight Reel The best movies of 2013 by John J. Bennett 01/09/2014
Seven Days Her Movie Review by Margot Harrison 01/15/2014
Colorado Springs Independent Counting down 2013's 15 finest films Some of these never played in local theaters, so you'll need to fill out your Netflix queue. by Scott Renshaw 01/01/2014
Inlander Computer Love Spike Jonze captures our passion for technology in Her by Curtis Woloschuk 01/09/2014
Portland Mercury Future Sex, Love Sounds Falling in love with Spike Jonze's Her. by Erik Henriksen 01/08/2014
Connect Savannah Review: Her For a film that's ostensibly about the need to make meaningful connections, it's a rather chilly endeavor, with the only warmth provided by, yes, the computer voice. by Matt Brunson 01/08/2014
Indy Week Spike Jonze's Her is dazzling Retro-futuristic romance with the most sincere of faces by Craig D. Lindsey 01/08/2014
Chicago Reader This is between me and Her (and Spike Jonze) Spike Jonze's Her invites a subjective response. by J.R. Jones 02/05/2014
Creative Loafing Charlotte Her: Computer blue Rating: *** by Matt Brunson 01/10/2014
Style Weekly Computer Love Movie Review: “Her” transforms a plausible future into a timely meditation on the human condition. by Nicholas Emme 01/14/2014
Colorado Springs Independent Her uses high-concept sci-fi to find the complexity in dealing with real people It's a perfect set-up for exploring, in the condensed time frame of a movie narrative, the evolution that complicates love. by Scott Renshaw 01/08/2014
Memphis Flyer Her’s All That by Addison Engelking 01/16/2014
Sky Blue Window Movie Review: Her It’s not about falling in love with Siri, according to reviewer Ed Johnson-Ott. by NUVO 01/12/2014
L.A. Weekly Her Review: To Siri, With Love The terrible reality of modern life is that even beautiful young people on a first date can't go a whole evening without checking their phones. We need to be potentially connected to every possibility at all times; just allowing the present to happen has become increasingly foreign. That's the idea... by Stephanie Zacharek 12/19/2013
East Bay Express Her She who must be ignored. by Kelly Vance 01/02/2014

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