Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Movie Review: "Her" (2013)

Director: Spike Jonze
Year: 2013
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 6 minutes

A depressed and lonely man in the midst of a divorce finds love with his new artificially intelligent computer operating system.

Her 2013 movie Joaquin Phoenix
"Sometimes I think I have felt everything I'm ever gonna feel. And from here on out, I'm not gonna feel anything new, just lesser versions of what I've already felt." (Image Source)
Love comes in many forms, and sometimes, that love involves no physical form at all. "Her" is written and directed by Spike Jonze, who is known for directing films like "Where the Wild Things Are," "Being John Malkovich," and "Adaptation." In the not too distant future, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a lonely man who is going through a divorce. He spends his days working for, a service that writes in-depth, sentimental messages 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 to, making them that much more intimate. 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). From there, 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.
Her 2013 movie Joaquin Phoenix Amy Adams
"I think anybody who falls in love is a freak. It's a crazy thing to do. It's kind of like a form of socially acceptable insanity." (Image Source)
"Her" takes a very unique and different approach to a love story and gives a new perspective on our society's idea of love. It's not your typical, cliche rom-com. In fact, it's far from it. This might be the most hipster movie we've ever loved, and we're not the least bit mad about it. This movie is a near-masterpiece led by a powerhouse performance from Joaquin Phoenix. Phoenix completely got robbed at the Oscars the year this film was released because he gives a better performance than most of the people nominated that year. His portrayal of Theodore is absolutely brilliant. You can really feel his pain and loneliness early on, and you want to love someone right alongside him. You get embarrassed for him and empathize with him. You find yourself rooting for his relationship with Samantha. You want so badly for it to work out and for his desolation to be taken away. Phoenix is genuinely convincing in this role. 95% of the movie is comprised of Phoenix talking to Scarlett Johannson, and 85% of that 95% includes close-up shots of Joaquin Phoenix's face, so you get to know his character on a very intimate level. Scarlett Johansson is also remarkably effective as Samantha, the sentient, ever-growing artificially intelligent being who experiences love for the first time through Theodore. She gives the perfect voiceover performance here. Everyone else in this movie plays a small, supporting role compared to his and hers, but they still manage to make an impact. Both Chris Pratt and Amy Adams do a lot with what little screentime they have, never passing judgment on Theodore's relationship with Samantha. Instead, they offer compassion and understanding that love is love. We could all do with a little more of this message in our day-to-day lives.

This movie explores a strong philosophical look at personhood and what it means to be a person. 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 an expected, cliched filmmaker, and that is definitely showcased here. He has a real knack for being different and expressing his individuality throughout his films, and though he may be deemed "too niche" for some, his vision for a different kind of love story works to his advantage for us.
Her 2013 movie Joaquin Phoenix
"You helped me discover my ability to want." (Image Source)
We love "Her" so, so much. 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. Still, this is a tender, intimate, genuinely different take on life and love, and is absolutely one of the best movies of 2013. It was nominated for five Oscars and won one for best original screenplay. Well done, Spike Jonze, well done.

My Rating: 10/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.0/10
RT Rating: 94%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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