REVIEW: Her (2013)

Release Poster - Warner Bros.

Release Poster – Warner Bros.

The following is a review of Spike Jonze’s Her.

Written and directed by Spike Jonze, Her is set in a ‘futuristic’ American city. The film follows Theodore (played by Joaquin Phoenix), a writer who actually writes other people’s letters masterfully, who is separated from his wife (played by Rooney Mara).

Theodore is unresponsive to his wife and her lawyer – neglecting any responsibility, but still very much in love with his wife. He has become a loner, but following a life-changing experience he starts to open up to his friends Paul and Amy (played by Chris Pratt and Amy Adams, respectively). You see, Theodore has fallen in love with his new operating system, which is managed by an artificial intelligence (voiced by Scarlett Johansson).

That’s everything I’ll say about the plot. And while this may sound loony, it actually works quite well. The dialogue is as funny as you can imagine dialogue written by a former Jackass-producer being. However, that’s not the ‘pull’ of the film – that isn’t what brings you in. This film is very funny, it is a love story – but it’s mostly a film about growing as a person – and about appreciating what is special about what is real.

One big criticism that I have heard from critics is that the film can only be appreciated by ‘young lovers’ that believe that we can control the ones we love. And while I see their point, I don’t think it is a rock-solid one. In fact, I’d say that this is an example of social commentary. I think it works quite well.

I’ve already mentioned the dialogue somewhat, and I need to do it again. It’s very smart, it’s fun, and, deservedly, it won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. As for the acting? Johansson is amazing as the voice of the OS, Phoenix is great (although his character isn’t all that original.), Amy Adams is unrecognizable but great, and, finally, Rooney Mara and Chris Pratt do a fine job as well.

This isn’t a movie for everybody. It has science-fiction elements to it, but isn’t as sci-fi as you might expect. It’s in the same category as Lost In Translation (by Jonze’s ex-wife Sofia Coppola), and, interestingly, some people see it as a response to that exact movie.

Coppola seems resentful towards Giovanni Ribisi’s character (the one people assume is based on Jonze), while Jonze is much kinder towards Rooney Mara’s character (the one people assume is based on Coppola). I enjoy both those films a lot, but I do think that this one will stand the test of time. Her is a science fiction drama masterpiece.

Final Grade: 10 out of 10. A memorable, thought-provoking masterpiece written and acted perfectly.

 – I’m Jeffrey Rex


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