Her Movie Review
The wildly imaginative Spike Jonze is back. Previously directing 1999’s BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, 2002’s ADAPTATION., and 2009’s WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, Jonze rarely ventures into the motion picture world. But when he does, it’s always a memorable adventure. His fourth film is no different, as HER might just be his best work yet.
Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore, a sympathetic introvert who has an extremely peculiar job that really sets the tone for what kind of a world we are entering into. Theodore is a writer. He writes letters for husbands to their wives, wives to their husbands, grandchildren to their grandparents, and anyone to anyone for basically any reason you can think of. Love letters, sympathy cards, birthdays – you name the situation and Theodore is your man. He writes with passion, understanding and genuine care. But he’s not the only one. Theodore works for an entire well-known corporation who is full of people hired to do the exact same thing. While the job may not be a focal point, the idea is that it is not only accepted but also appreciated.
Recently separated from his wife, Theodore is melancholy and lonely. To help compensate with his slight depression he purchases a new operating system that is designed to learn and meet his every need. If you are familiar with your iPhone’s Siri feature, you are about a fraction of the way there. Theordore chooses a female voice for his operating system or OS as the characters usually refer to it, who promptly names herself Samantha. They immediately begin to build a relationship that is more believable than most anything I’ve seen on screen in recent memory.
Since Samantha is not a body but a simple operating system that Theodore can only hear through his electronic devices, her form visually comes by computer, phone or an ear piece. It’s nearly like having a long distance relationship with the understanding that you will not be seeing each other anytime soon… like forever. They go on walks, lay at the beach, play games at a fair. This all might sound insane but the one man show put on by Joaquin Phoenix builds a chemistry as new lovers that even the most sour would be rooting for.
To say this film covers grey areas would be putting it in black and white. But as screenwriter and director, Spike Jonze explores a multitude of areas with a fine touch. He is never making fun of the situation but delicately gives his characters their space. Clearly, he cares for their relationship and the setting, asking and answering questions as he goes for this particular person.
As I mentioned before, Joaquin Phoenix is definitely a one man show giving one of the best performances of the year. Someone who is not shown but deserves equal credit is Scarlett Johansson as the voice of the operating system Samantha. She strikes every right tone and inflection as though the feelings that she doesn’t completely understand are very real and very sincere. Hopefully her voice-over work will be recognized by the Academy as her performance would definitely be one of the best in the Supporting Actress category.
I love when I find a movie that gives a high concept original idea and backs it up with a ton of heart. HER might just be too strange for the masses but I believe it could be the best movie you will never see. Much like one of my all-time favorite films WALL-E, HER proves to be an incredibly touching love story involving a machine that is more human than most. But it goes much deeper than a love story as it continues on into a sad realization of a character and a society that is beginning to lose a grasp on the tangibles. With a couple of amazing performances and an original screenplay that I will definitely be rooting for come Oscar time, HER is easily one of the best films of 2013.