Running Time: 126 minutes
Directed by: Spike Jones
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Rooney Mara
Her is a film written and directed by Spike Jones about a lonely man named Theodore (Phoenix) who is in the final stages of his divorce. He works as a letter writer and spends most of his time playing video games. When OS1, the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system is on sale, Theodore decides to try it out and finds himself immediately drawn to Samantha (Johansson), the voice behind his OS1. As time passes, they start to grow closer and closer and eventually falling in love with one another. However, Theodore gradually finds himself facing the conflict of being in love with an OS.
I was immediately captivated by the story from the first frame of Joaquin Phoenix as his character Theodore, working by his desk. There was something about the close-ups to the characters’ faces as they voiced out their lines, and they expressed their emotions that had a sense of “in-your-face” making you unable to turn away from them, unable to run away from the characters’ emotions and situation. I felt intrigued by the thought of Theodore’s job as a letter writer, I was intrigued by the world that he’s living in, the connection between humans and their technology. Every scene that involved the social world in the movie, the background characters were always talking to an earpiece or looking at their gadgets. Basically, Spike Jones had created his vision, his prediction of our future. It was interesting, it was exciting to imagine and see that the world in the film could be ours one day, at the same time, it was scary to know that we could be/feel that isolated one day. We already are progressing towards that stage, and it’s scary to see it before your eyes – the lack of physical human contact even though we’re so near one another all the time. For that, I would say that I think Spike Jones have officially written his best work so far, and I truly hope that he will win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay later in March.
The other thing that really got my attention was the colour, the texture and the general cinematography of the film. It was consistent from scene one till the end. There was a yellow hue or filter throughout the film that gave it a sense of nostalgia and at moments warmth. There were always hints of red and yellow throughout. It added an extra sense of quirkiness to Theodore as a character. Once again, the close-ups and big aperture shots really made audiences pay attention to the objects of each scene. There were a few scenes that I really fell in love with the cinematography, one is a slow-motion sequence of a street dancer, and the other was a scene of Theodore running. The impact or feeling from such simple scenes was more than one would think it would have.
Furthermore, the performance from Joaquin Phoenix, with the close-ups and majority of the film having to focus on him because of his relationship with an OS (which is merely a voice), so there was barely any interaction between him and another human being in those scenes, the performance really had to be strong and convincing in order to carry the film forward. And I felt Phoenix achieved it, and gave one of the best performances in his career (so far), and it is a bummer that he was not nominated for Best Actor for the Oscars. I felt that he really did immerse himself into the character with the inner turmoil and conflict that Theodore was going through. Meanwhile with supporting characters such as Amy, Theodore’s close friend played by Amy Adams and Catherine, Theodore’s ex-wife played by Rooney Mara gave a wonderful performance and the chemistry between them with Joaquin Phoenix was spot on. And even though Scarlett Johansson was merely the voice of Samantha, one could really feel the emotions that her character was going through as an evolving OS and as she fell in love with Theodore. Although I would like to see Samantha Morton’s interpretation or approach towards the same character.
Lastly, the score for the film by Arcade Fire was brilliant for the film. It brought life to every scene, and it stirred up the emotions the audience is expected to feel for the different scenes. So, to end this review, I would say overall Her is truly a wonderfully written film, great leading actor and beautifully directed. It makes you question about the meaning and types of love and our growing relationship with technology.
Rating: 9 out of 10