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Review: Her

Jan. 7, 2014by: JimmyO

PLOT: Theodore Twombly lives his life through the passion and joy of others. He writes letters from one stranger to another bringing connection to their life. Yet far from the hopeful words he transcribes, he is still aching for a marriage which he is watching fall apart. That is until he purchases an unusual operating system on his computer. Soon, he finds an unexpected connection to a voice that seems to understand and accept everything about him.

REVIEW: Spike Jonze's HER is a touching and very accurate account of the challenge and frustration of a romantic relationship. Of course a movie about a mans connection with his OS (operating system) is about as far-fetched as you can imagine. Yet it works. Too bad iPhones Siri doesnt quite have the charm of Scarlett Johansson who gives voice to Samantha, the Her in question. Or is she? The Her could simply be the woman you engage with on a sex line, or the woman that you thought youd spend the rest of your life with. HER takes a contemporary approach to the complex idea of love while exploring the many facets and obstacles that sometimes seem too much to take on. There is more truth in HER than nearly every single romantic comedy Hollywood has produced in the past few years.

Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore Twombly. He is a writer who makes a living creating letters for random people paying to send loved ones personalized poetry. Yet his romantic life is far from poetic. His wife Catherine (Rooney Mara) and her lawyer are desperately trying to get him to finalize their divorce. It was a marriage that he is trying to hold on to. Lonely and lost in his memory of happier times, Theodore decides to try a new program that offers a personalized OS to do more than just organize your online files. Much to his surprise, the voice coming out of his computer is warm, witty and pretty darn attractive sounding. She even gives herself the name Samantha after she accesses a book on baby names in a split second or two. And yes, Scarlett Johansson gives an incredible, award worthy performance with not one minute of showing her lovely face on-screen. It may be just a voice, but what a voice it is.

Speaking of strong performances, it is hard not to be sympathetic to Twomblys plight thanks to Phoenix. Vulnerable, compassionate and lost, he carries this film ably letting us accept his deep love for a voice coming from his computer. The actors work here is honest and touching as well as a little offbeat. He also shares a few inspired moments with Amy Adams who no matter what she does cannot be anything less than radiant as of late. Ms. Adams plays Amy, a friend of Theodore who clearly understands and accepts him throughout his troubled marriage and beyond. She herself is in a difficult situation with a complicated and overbearing spouse named Charles (the terrific Matt Letscher). She even has an OS of her very own.

The rest of the supporting performances are all quite good including Mara as the soon-to-be-ex-wife. The actress gives the proper balance to Phoenix. She plays Catherine with strength without turning her into a villain or a stereotype. The scene-stealing Chris Pratt is an absolute treat as Twomblys hyper-friendly co-worker Paul. Throughout the course of the film we get to know this character and the film is much better for it. The lovely and charismatic Olivia Wilde also makes an appearance for a surprisingly intense sequence as a date for Theodore. And in one of the most charming cameos ever put to film, Spike Jonze himself gives voice to a frighteningly cool foul-mouthed alien child in a virtual video game. Some of the most memorable laughs come from this strange little guy.

HER is an unexpectedly intricate look at what is a very real and emotional relationship. The script written by Jonze is provocative yet incredibly personal. The focus is not on sex, it is understanding and companionship, something which all of the characters are desperately seeking. Thankfully the filmmaker avoids the more clichd and comical elements that he could have by telling a story about a guy in love with his computer 1984s ELECTRIC DREAMS anyone. This is thought-provoking stuff. When a simple sigh is questioned, it is done so with sincerity and may invite your own curiosity the next time you hear somebody take a moment to breathe before speaking.

In addition to the beautiful script, Jones brings HER to life visually as well. Working with cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema (who is also credited with Christopher Nolans highly anticipated INTERSTELLAR), they create this world with only a slight hint of science fiction. The little moments are never lost. The simplicity of lying on the bed as tiny particles of dust drift down say as much about the intimacy of each moment as the larger more emotional scenes. When that is disrupted by ultimate realizations, it is all the more potent. There is quite the attention to detail from the unnervingly high waist line in the men's costume design to the appropriate color palate of each moment presented. Even the close-ups tell a story all their own. This is a stunning film. HER is filled with strong performances, an insightful script, beautiful direction and an impressive score from the critically acclaimed rock outfit Arcade Fire for what is truly a very human love story. A must see.

Source: JoBlo.com

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3:36AM on 01/15/2014
Fuck, best movie I've seen all year. The style in the film just reminds me so much of A Brave New World. As if all identity had been sapped from the world in the future.
Fuck, best movie I've seen all year. The style in the film just reminds me so much of A Brave New World. As if all identity had been sapped from the world in the future.
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4:20PM on 01/09/2014
I've just seen it, wonderful movie.
I've just seen it, wonderful movie.
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8:16PM on 01/07/2014

Believe the review

I saw this film last week. It is playing in two theaters near me before it goes wide on Friday. It is an absolutely beautiful film. The premise is going to raise eyebrows but if you can get past if, which you should, you will find a film about relationships, love, and the effect technology has and will have on our lives. Truly one of the best films of the year.
I saw this film last week. It is playing in two theaters near me before it goes wide on Friday. It is an absolutely beautiful film. The premise is going to raise eyebrows but if you can get past if, which you should, you will find a film about relationships, love, and the effect technology has and will have on our lives. Truly one of the best films of the year.
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3:37PM on 12/19/2013

10/10, hmmm?

As others have said, your rating just shot this movie onto my 'must see' list. I must admit, I'd like to see a romantic comedy that doesn't make me want to rip the leading characters' hearts out with a spoon ("It'll hurt more, you idiot!").
As others have said, your rating just shot this movie onto my 'must see' list. I must admit, I'd like to see a romantic comedy that doesn't make me want to rip the leading characters' hearts out with a spoon ("It'll hurt more, you idiot!").
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2:44PM on 12/19/2013
Wow, 10/10? Well, I guess this one's going on the "must see" list.
Wow, 10/10? Well, I guess this one's going on the "must see" list.
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12:21PM on 12/19/2013
I completely agree. This is the film of the year.
I completely agree. This is the film of the year.
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+0
12:16PM on 12/19/2013
Not the kind of film I usually want to see, but this is an exception. I am very interested in this one. The story does come off as very intriguing. It's a shame it doesn't open wide until next year.
Not the kind of film I usually want to see, but this is an exception. I am very interested in this one. The story does come off as very intriguing. It's a shame it doesn't open wide until next year.
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12:05PM on 12/19/2013

Agreed!

I've never been so emotionally moved from any film as long as I can remember. Jones' ability to make you think about life is what makes him such an awesome storyteller. An amazing story about the future, yet so relatable and REAL. I LOVED this film.
I've never been so emotionally moved from any film as long as I can remember. Jones' ability to make you think about life is what makes him such an awesome storyteller. An amazing story about the future, yet so relatable and REAL. I LOVED this film.
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11:48AM on 12/19/2013

I want to see this now

Damn you Limited Release it's not playing anywhere in my city.
Damn you Limited Release it's not playing anywhere in my city.
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11:38AM on 12/19/2013
10/10 holy shit. In the 9 years I've been on this site- I think I've seen that only once before.
10/10 holy shit. In the 9 years I've been on this site- I think I've seen that only once before.
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4:20PM on 12/19/2013
Come around Oscar season more. It's like this for every piece of arthouse shit that makes my skin crawl and blood boil.
Come around Oscar season more. It's like this for every piece of arthouse shit that makes my skin crawl and blood boil.
11:31AM on 12/19/2013
10! I was going to go to this anyway but wow, definitely am now
10! I was going to go to this anyway but wow, definitely am now
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10:54AM on 12/19/2013
Wow, 1010? I was debating on seeing this but now its on my "must see" list.
Wow, 1010? I was debating on seeing this but now its on my "must see" list.
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10:52AM on 12/19/2013
I can't wait to see this. If it's as good as everyone is saying it is, then I for one can't wait to be blown away by this.

And did you think that Johansson was Oscar worthy with her voice portrayal in this film?
I can't wait to see this. If it's as good as everyone is saying it is, then I for one can't wait to be blown away by this.

And did you think that Johansson was Oscar worthy with her voice portrayal in this film?
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11:08AM on 12/19/2013
She is definitely deserving of a nomination. She gives a fantastic performance!
She is definitely deserving of a nomination. She gives a fantastic performance!
11:05AM on 12/20/2013
Wow. Guess we'll see if she gets nominated or not.
Wow. Guess we'll see if she gets nominated or not.
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