Friday, February 7, 2014

Movie Review: "Her" (2013)

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Movie"Her"
Director: Spike Jonez
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 6 minutes

In the not too distant future, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a depressed, lonely man who is going through a divorce. He spends his days working for BeautifulHandwrittenLetters.com, a service that writes personal, sentimental letters for other people. He has worked there for many years and is very good at his job, often remembering little details about the people he writes letters for. His nights consist of playing videos games alone and having phone sex with random strangers in telephone chat rooms. After seeing an advertisement for a new personalized artificially intelligent operating system, he decides to upgrade. After a few short questions, the operating system creates its personality and names itself "Samantha" (Scarlett Johansson). Theodore's life quickly changes as he finds himself falling for Samantha with each passing day. Stranger yet, his operating system seems to be falling for him as well. Samantha and Theodore begin a relationship, as she is able to offer him what he wants, well, everything but a physical body presence. Can their love survive on an emotional connection alone?

"Her" is a very unique and different look at a love story and a new perspective on our general idea of love as a society. It's not your typical, cliche rom-com, in fact, it's far from it. This might be the most hipster movie I've ever loved.

Let me first say that I think Joaquin Phoenix got completely robbed at the Oscar nominations this year. His portrayal of Theodore is absolutely brilliant. As an audience member, I truly felt his pain and loneliness. You want to love someone right alongside him. You get embarrassed for him. You find yourself rooting for his relationship with Samantha. You want so badly for it to work out and for his loneliness to be taken away. He is genuinely convincing in this role. 95% of the movie is comprised of Joaquin Phoenix talking to Scarlett Johannson, and 85% of that 95% is comprised of close-up shots of Joaquin Phoenix's face, so you get to know his character on a very intimate level. In fact, sometimes he was so good, so convincing, that I found myself unable to stop crying during some parts of the movie because I was so moved by his performance. Everyone else in this movie plays a small, supporting role in this film that there's almost no need to talk about them in depth. I will say this: Amy Adams is wonderful and I don't care who hates her (CRAG).

This movie explores a strong philosophical look at personhood and what it means to be an individual. It also looks at the acceptance of a relationship such as Theodore and Samantha's. Many people accept it immediately, without any question, and others are quick to judge, confused and condemn it as something artificial and unnatural. All of this comes to fruition at the hands of director Spike Jonze, who has never been your typical filmmaker, and that is definitely showcased here. He has a real knack for being different and expressing individuality throughout his films, and though he may be deemed "too hipster" for some, his vision for a different kind of love story works to his advantage in this movie.

There are definitely some awkward, uncomfortable moments, even some that make you go, "WTF?," which might seem redundant since this film is about falling in love with a computer operating system. In case you've seen it, all we'll say is, think "the part about the cat".....WUT??? These few scenes aside, "Her" is a tender, intimate, genuinely different take on life and love, and absolutely one of the best movies of 2013. Well done, Spike Jonze, well done.

My Rating: 9.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 94%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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