Her isn’t really about her. It’s about the love we’ve had, the love we’ve lost, and the love that can still be reached. Quite possibly, it’s about the love that’s right in front of us that something many of us neglect to see.
Spike Jonze has surprised us before with the power of his imagination, and this time he comes very close to perfection in both his writing and direction. With the support of Joaquin Phoenix at his very best, Amy Adams, shining, ironically, without any distracting make up and period outfits, and showing Rooney Mara’s soft and vulnerable side, he goes very far, but it’s in Scarlett Johansson’s vocal talents that he manages to fuse everything and find the soul of his film.
The premise is very straight forward. A lonely and insecure letter writer decides to interact with a new type of computer technology, and to his surprise, he gets way more than he originally expected, as “Samantha” begins to show that she is more than just an operating system. As the story moves on, both of these characters begin to change, to lower their inhibitions, and to develop quite a bit of a complex relationship.
Spike Jonze has always directed scripts written by others or ones that he co-wrote. Her marks the first time Jonze is directing a feature he wrote by himself. As a director, Jonze shows his skill with showing us where to look and what’s important to his story. Jonze also does some very brilliant work as a writer in setting up the blueprints to this film and creating a world in the not too distant future where technology has made many advancements. As a writer and director, Spike Jonze tells a story that makes us feel happy, sad, and emotionally invested in these characters.
Joaquin Phoenix is the heart and soul of Spike Jonze’s Her. Phoenix gives his best performance since Walk the Line. With the role of Theodore Twombley, Phoenix gives us a raw and emotional performance. Phoenix makes Theodore into somebody who is lonely, funny, romantic, and heartbreaking at the same time. Phoenix carries this film on his shoulders and makes us feel for Theodore and relate to him. Scarlett Johansson, who replaced all of Samantha Morton’s original voice work, makes a strong case for Oscar nominated voice acting. With her singing background, she knows how to alter the pitch of her voice, infusing it with both humor and emotion. Her disembodied presence becomes charming and sad, rating as some of the best work she has ever done.
Amy Adams shows up as a neighbor to Phoenix and best friend. She’s here to showcase to us that he is able to talk to and connect with a human being, he’s not necessarily this recluse. This is a nice counter to the technology aspect. There is a brother-sister relationship here, which was crucial for the film. This helps us to see the technology as more of a tool for the characters, than simply a good or bad aspect of our future.
While the exquisite script and ensemble deliver the emotion on the intellectual side, what really helps the film achieve its mood is the rich cinematography, costume design and art direction. Despite everything, Theodore feels strong love rather than animosity to his ex-wife and Samantha. Her is heartfelt, funny and depressing. If your asking yourself, can a human and an OS have sex? Her answers this question, in a unique way that lets us focus on the sound and not the visuals. Her is without a doubt extremely inventive in the way it approached and handled the typical generic genre about romance and relationships. A must watch for everyone.