HER (2013)


Written & Directed By: Spike Jonze
Cinematography By: Hoyte Van Hoytema
Editor: Jeff Buchanan & Eric Zunmbrunnen 

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Pratt, Rooney Mara, Portia Doubleday, Matt Letscher, Olivia Wilde

A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system that’s designed to meet his every need.

I Couldn’t help it, Couldn’t wait had to put this out. As I have many things to say about this film. It’s a marvel. I mean look I made it an immediate classic on my list. One of the most identifiable films for me this year. It really struck a chord all over the Film-making, The Story, The Characters. Yes it is another film i wish i could have made.

Originally titled She, but oddly changed to the similar HER.

When it comes to this film it’s beautiful, but makes you feel uncomfortable as the characters as overall tone of the film is familiar and identifiable. Which you can see with constant close-ups and P.O.V. Shots. It’s like a studio film with an indie story and techniques. I felt myself continuously be charged emotionally, charmed yet enlightened as each scene passed, but full of wonder as to where the story would go.

It’s sort of like my reaction to BLUE VALENTINE though they both are love stories. They are old and dealt with in different ways though by the end make you feel similar. BLUE VALENTINE felt more real and tragic that most people in the audience can identify with disappointed me somewhat as I felt it didn’t feel real enough at times. Though keep in mind I have never had a personal love story or experienced one. Where as I really like this film as it tracks the nature of love, but is more of a movie and symbolic removed a bit from reality, but I find myself relating more to this film. Maybe because the lead is more shy and introverted whole also acknowledging he has a sex drive. Which most movies when presenting that type of Character skip or make annoying and a pervert. In BLUE VALENTINE the lead was nice, but eventually close minded disillusioned after awhile making him more unidentifiable for me at least. Though that might be the difference As I identify with this film as I get older and have more experiences I might find myself more drawn and understanding of the raw reality of BLUE VALENTINE, though in my heart I truly hope it is an understanding and not total identification.

In this film Samantha’s voice, a character who we never see physically so she could be whoever in the audiences imagination and not be totally judged for not exactly living up to our dream girl. As it will be different for each of us and always stays a dream. Which will never become a reality. Though making her somewhat identifiable.

The film might be too precious for some of our cynical minds or tell us if we don’t like twee quirky. We have no hearts. As you have a sense of the places it can go, yet paints itself into a corner that is hard to get out of as the film builds itself up. So that just any ending won’t do. It has to have the right one that feels as true as the rest of the film or it could end up a noble failure. So it must walk a delicate line towards the end.

The film could have ended at several places though it might have left a bunch of questions. Yet might be satisfying and complete the ending as it is feels right, but also drawn out.

Jonze’s friend Steven Soderbergh helped him trim the film at one point by re-editing one early version of the film from two-and-a-half hours down to 90 minutes…all in twenty-four hours’ time.

Samantha Morton was originally the voice of Samantha. She was present on the set with Joaquin Phoenix every day. After the filming wrapped and Spike Jonze started editing the movie, he felt like something was not right. With Morton’s blessing, he decided to recast the role and Scarlett Johansson was brought as a replacement.

As I love every minute of the film. I also felt every minute of it also length wise. Though like most audiences I found myself charmed and fell in love with the film. Usually you never feel the time fly by so that when it does you miss it.

This is the only movie Spike Jonze has written as well as directed, completely from his own original script. Which shows he has talent in that department. Though you can tell he is more interested in ideas, tone and visuals and using dialogue to help shape and shade the rest. It’s not a bad thing as it taps into his skills and vision.

This is more of a film, you think about after and find yourself coming back to it in our thoughts. Kind of haunting you a bit. As you film yourself having an affection for it’s schemes and remember it or it’s story and ideas as better than it actually was in experience like a memory of good times you have had under heavy examination or from a witness isn’t as rose colored as you make it out to be.

I won’t spoil the film though there isn’t much to spoil, though i think it is best like the characters to explore with a certain wonder and discover the world of the film, emotions and moments.

Revealing scene of desperation of both parties. Like when he goes out on a blind date open yet still not open emotionally. Ready to flirt and somewhat mingle. Even fall in love yet not be emotionally truthful.

The L.A. Landscape so open yet feels empty even with so many others around lonely and hard to make connections. Everyone is creative in some way.

Joaquin Phoenix continues to amaze me with his performances and range. I enjoyed his debut adult performance in TO DIE FOR (A personal favorite) (after being a fan of his work as a child actor under the name Leaf Phoenix in SOLAR BABIES, SPACE CAMP, RUSSKIES and PARENTHOOD) though felt he was overrated in most roles after that until WALK THE LINE that was when he started to astonish me and really started hitting it out of the ballpark continuously. Like he let go of a certain vanity at some point. I feel he was robbed of an Oscar for THE MASTER giving a full physical and psychological performance. Here as the shy, emotionally meek nice guy is a surprising performance as he seems to be that character especially considering you can’t imagine anyone else playing the role. His sad lion face, Hiding the Ferociousness of the actor instead using that to his advantage by turning it into energy making him alive and not sleepwalk through the role.

Scarlett Johansson is just as impressive and sublime. Not only coming into the film late replacing Samantha Morton in the role she creates a character totally from just her voice. She allows herself to be more open then from many of her previous performances. As she is petty, mean naive, smart, creative and wondrous. That You can’t help falling for her either.

Though he is talking to someone Phoenix’s performance is almost constantly a one man show, performance wise with a lot of reactions though physically alone on screen. Presenting a playfulness and being open For the audience it might feel like more of a crush then love for the film as it is definitely a romantic movie.

Like any subject or genre the sci-fi used in this film is slight, but tells a huge story. It is best when subtle telling smaller stories that are only small and about affection it seems, but colors in the world around it. Just as bigger stories with effects, pyrotechnics that deal with galaxies, vortex’s and bigger palates amaze with size and scope, but there is always a heart to these stories that just as in the human body is small, but connected to everything so that the rest loves and does based on it’s survival and use.

The style this film goes for is more of a classic from yesteryear. The clothing is like he atmosphere appears different and futuristic with a more spare modern landscape that is spacious, simple and colorful. Though the clothing is more Styled like the 1930’s fashion. High waisted wool pants as button up collared shirts yet muted bright colors. Which would explain the classic haircuts and full mustaches.

A must see

Grade: A

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