Monday, December 30, 2013

Movie Review: Her

Her is the most poignant and strangely inspirational film I've seen in some time. Spike Jonze's latest film is a lovelorn masterwork that will resonate with anyone who has ever used a smart phone and who still has blood pumping through their veins. In the not too distant future, society's struggles and hardships are quelled by the wonders of technology, but instead of standing together in triumph, people are isolated and miserable. The financial and economic woes that plagued mankind for millennia have given way to existential crises and the dissolution of intimacy. It's a frightening paradox and makes for a heartbreaking viewing experience.

Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore, a writer and hopeless romantic in the throes of a bitter divorce. He wonders the streets of futuristic Los Angeles completely immersed in the world of his personal computer (think: iPhone 50) like all the other blank faced automatons in the city. When Theodore purchases a new operating system with artificial intelligence, he quickly forms a bond with his OS, who names itself "Samantha," and begins to turn his life around. Phoenix's portrayal of poor Theodore is nothing short of amazing. Because this is a movie about a dude who's in love with a computer, Phoenix is alone for the majority of the film and does all the onscreen heavy lifting himself. He's melancholy and pathetic, he's joyful and hilarious, he's neurotic and vulnerable all at once. Scarlett Johansson provides Samantha's smokey voice and does a great job making a creepy omnipresent machine sound like something you'd want to wake up next to in the morning. Rooney Mara continues her streak of pants shitting-ly terrifying performances ( The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Side Effects) and Amy Adams is brilliant as Theodore's quirky friend and neighbor in a role that's a complete 180 from her character in American Hustle but she shines just as bright. 

Technically and thematically, Her is simply a gorgeous film to behold. The team Jonze assembled to bring his tragically sterile future world to life deserves all the praise they're receiving and more. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema and costume designer Casey Storm create a cheerfully drab Apple Store/American Apparel looking society, devoid of dust, excitement, and denim. The film's inspirational music is brought to you by Arcade Fire and Karen O of The Yeah Yeah Yeah's, and Phoenix delivers one of the most captivating performances of his career. All that, plus the deep philosophical themes Her touches upon, this film is just ridiculously good on so many levels it's not even funny. Speaking of funny, although heartbreaking and tragic, Her has several flat out hilarious scenes. Like side splitting laughter. So prepare your tear ducts, secure your funny bone, and say goodbye to your smart phone because you'll probably never look it the same way again after you see this movie. Her is without question, one of the best films 2013 has to offer.


  1. Not even gonna look at the trailer. I wanna see this.

  2. Wow! You won me over with just three paragraphs! Never heard of this before, and now I MUST see this!! Thanks for posting about it.

    Also reminds me of an episode of the TV show "Big Bang Theory" where a character in the show falls in love with his phone!

  3. I can't wait to see this film. It was at the Vista a while ago and I'm kicking myself for missing it.

  4. I love your final two sentences - both are so very true, and paint the perfect picture of what this film is, and what it does to us. Great review.