BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
DECEMBER 26, 2013
I have never smiled so much or felt so much emotion during a film this year than I did with “Her.” Feeling the presence of a smile while you’re watching a film is a rare thing, at least for me. The immense glow of emotion coming from this film is brought on, not just by the lavish performances, but by the eclectic score from Arcade Fire and the otherworldly qualities of the cinematography from Hoyte van Hoytema. Spike Jonze delivers one of the best films of the year with “Her,” set in the not-so-distant future where careers like professional letter writers exist to write letters from other people to people they do not know. This is where our main character Theodore Twombly steps in, played impressively and sincerely by Joaquin Phoenix, a man that dissolves into his characters and is just crazy enough to bring these characters to ever breathing life, unlike any other character actor around today.
Theodore is in the middle of a divorce from the love of his life, played by Rooney Mara. Because of this, he’s hit a rut in his life and this shows in every step he takes and every word he speaks with his fellow downtrodden neighbor, played by Amy Adams. It’s not until Theodore purchases the new intelligent Operating System that things start to turn around. The new IOS is designed to grow accustomed to the owner and react like an actual person. Theodore’s OS takes the form of a female named Samantha (voiced incredibly by Scarlett Johansson). In his sullen state, Samantha is the key to reawakening him to the world, eventually leading to an attraction between himself and his OS.
There are multiple levels to Spike Jonze’s immense screenplay, with just one of them being the justification of the love shared by a human and an operating system. If people are getting what they need from a computer, is it so bad? There’s a debate in there somewhere and a debate I feel like we’ll be having someday when our computers become smarter than we are. The progression of their relationship is anything but predictable and the emotions emoted by both parties, on-screen and voice over, are heart-wrenching and emotionally encapsulating, following the progression of a true relationship. With futuristic undertones throughout that ring completely true, “Her” not only lands as a significant science fiction film, but as a touching and ornate romantic drama, brought to life by the words and ideas written and projected by Jonze and Phoenix is perfect harmony.
December 18, 2013
Warner Bros. Pictures
(for language, sexual content and brief graphic nudity)
Hoyte van Hoytema