Friday, January 10, 2014

Movie Review: "Her"

Writer/director Spike Jonze is a genuine original, and his newest film, Her, is unlike any other film you'll ever see.  While many have jokingly called the film, "Siri: The Movie," that statement isn't that far off from what the film is.

Her tells the story of Theodore, a lonely man who's recently divorced, who finds a special connection with the AI operating system named Samantha on his phone and computer.  What follows is one of the most unique romance films the cinema has ever seen.  Long distance relationships are hard, but how do you even have a relationship when one person doesn't even have a body?  It's these questions that are at the forefront of this film, and Spike Jonze manages to micro-analyze the ideas of love and what true love means through the lens of this story.

Joaquin Phoenix has the unenviable task of portraying Theodore, who spends more than half of the film acting with thin air.  For this performance to be as emotionally honest and sincere as it is, it took tons of imagination on Phoenix's behalf and he knocks the role out of the park.  In many ways, it's a shame he's not nominated for the Best Actor Oscar.  As for the voice of Samantha, actress Scarlett Johansson delivers a soulful performance that manages to bring this artificial voice to life, so that we actually care about her, the same as Theodore does.

Spike Jonze manages to keep the film engaging for most of its two hour runtime, by and large thanks to Phoenix and Johansson, but Her does kind of get stuck in a bit of a loop around the hour mark.  It kind of feels like the film could have said everything it needed to say in an hour and a half, rather than in two hours, with many scenes often feeling like retreads of scenes that occurred thirty minutes before.  While this film is thematically rich and needs time to explore these themes, the impact of the thematic ideas can often not be as strong if drawn out, and that's what happens here.

Even with that all said, Spike Jonze's words and retro-Hipster vision of the near future are so sensational you're willing to forgive a little indulgence.  Personally, I love the way video games are in a few years, but the high-waisted pants?  No thanks.

I give Her an A-!

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