Thursday, January 30, 2014
I have finally gotten around to writing up my review of Spike Jonze's Her, the last movie eligible for my Best Films Seen in 2013. Since I saw the movie on Christmas Day it has gone into wide release, become critically acclaimed (93% on rotten tomatoes) and received five Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Production Design, Original Song and Original Score. Surprisingly, neither Joaquin Phoenix nor Amy Adams received nominations for their acting, and the Academy did not break ground with a nomination for Scarlet Johansson who does not appear in the film but whose voice is one of the most significant features of the film.
Her is a very involving, thought-provoking film. The plot revolves around Phoenix's character Theodore Twombly whose job it is to write personal letters for other people. He uses voice recognition software to dictate the letters, which are then generated in amazingly realistic handwriting fonts on various stationery. This is a perfect example of the confounding contrasts in the film. Technology is visibly enhanced from our current reality, but people are still sending each other hand-written letters? Twombly is a very solitary person who is going through a divorce. He purchases a new operating system, which has a new self-aware artificial intelligence voiced by Johansson named Samantha, who quickly becomes the most important thing in his life.
In fact, Her is really a non-traditional love story between Twombly and Samantha. However, in Jonze's vision of the future (which is purportedly set in a future Los Angeles, but contains shots of architecture from various cities in Asia like Shanghai and Tokyo) it is not unusual for people to have emotional relationships with artificial intelligences. In fact, the other significant human character in the film is Amy (played by Amy Adams) also has a clear emotional attachment to her operating system as well.
The film definitely makes you think about the definitions of intimacy and relationship, all the time giving you an engrossing look at a potential future which seems both realistic, intriguing and disturbing simultaneously.
Director: Spike Jonze.
Running Time: 2 hours, 6 minutes.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language, sexual content and brief graphic nudity.
Release Date: December 18, 2013 (limited).
Viewing Date: December 25, 2013.
Overall Grade: A- (3.67/4.0).