Her Blu-ray Review
For centuries, artists of all types have tried to explain love. And for the most part, we as people understand the concept, whether it be sexual in nature, or the love a mother has for her children, or a boy has for his dog, or even the love people have for their favorite sports teams. But that kind of love is easy because the object is physical in nature and easy to assign attributes to, whether they’re real or perceived. But Spike Jonze takes a different take on the concept of love with his latest film, HER. On the surface, a movie about a guy falling in love with a computer system almost sounds like a slapstick comedy, but credit Jonze for giving us one of the most heartfelt love stories of the year and we don’t even see half of the couple on screen.
Set in a “not too distant future”, Joaquin Phoenix is Theodore; a lonely guy that makes a living writing greeting cards and love letters for people. Theodore as a character is established pretty quickly an isolated individual that spends more time with his phone than he does interacting with real people, but the beauty of the first thirty minutes or so is how Jonze established the world the audience is in. As Theodore is walking down the street, everyone has their headphones in, completely oblivious to the world around them. Even his profession is a sign that this version of the future is inhabited by people that don’t want to put any effort into making a true, human connection to someone else.
Without any ulterior motives, Theodore decides to upgrade his operating system on his home, networked computer. After answering some quick questions, a voice chimes in, introducing herself as his new operating system, Samantha. The voice is instantly recognizable as Scarlett Johansson, which I thought would be a problem, but her voicework turns out to be the best part of the film. At first, Theodore and Samantha have a more business focused relationship; she reads him his email and cleans up his inbox. But they soon start to talk and Samantha’s curiosity and genuine interest in Theodore’s life make him begin to think of her differently. And because of Johansson’s incredible voice performance, the audience starts to believe that she’s developing feelings for Theodore, even though all common sense tells us it’s impossible.
I have an internal struggle between who gives the more impressive performance; Joaquin Phoenix or Scarlett Johansson. As great as Johansson was with her voicework, it’s easy to forget that she’s never actually on screen and that every scene with them as a “couple” is carried out by Joaquin Phoenix. Even on a double date, it’s just Phoenix interacting with a voice. It’s incredibly hard for two people to make an audience believe they’re in love, but it seems like it would be impossible for one person to do it without ever seeing the other. But that’s exactly what Phoenix does in HER.
There’s more to HER than what a review or a quick plot summary can relay and it’s a film that has to be experienced to be believed. Spike Jonze has delivered some strangely great films over the years, but HER is probably his most impressive, at least in terms of what he did as a director. He made it so the audience couldn’t judge Theodore for falling in love with a voice, because the audience was falling in love right along with him.
HER BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: The colors in HER seem to be naturally subdued, but everything shines through beautifully on this Blu-ray release.
Audio: The audio is equally impressive.
Her: Love in the Modern Age (15:02): Unfortunately, this doesn’t have much to do with the film and is instead just a series of interviews with various people discussing love in the modern age.
How Do You Share Your Life With Somebody (4:01): This is simply a montage of scenes from the film.
The Untitled Rick Howard Project (23:58): This is a making-of featurette that would only appear on a Spike Jonze release. There’s not much in terms of information, but it was nice to see some of the scenes get made and take a peek behind the scenes of the film.