Her – The Big Surprise of 2013 – Review

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Photo Courtesy Warner Brothers

I know it sounds like a crazy plot, but, if you see Her, I guarantee it will make you think about something.  Anything.  Some portion, some piece of dialogue, some scene or some image will hit you.

Set in the not too distant future, Joaquin Phoenix stars as Theodore – a lonely guy suffering from the breakdown of his marriage, but forging ahead as a fantastic love letter writer for rich people who want to sound smarter, more poetic and more emotionally in tune than they really are (you can buy anything these days).

Theodore decides to upgrade his computer’s operating system, but he wasn’t ready for something like this.  The hot new OS is an interactive, intelligent program that speaks to the user (kind of like Siri), and Theodore’s goes by the name of Samantha (voice by Scarlett Johansson).  She is perky, flirty, sexy and everything he ever wanted in a woman (minus the body).

How far can this relationship go?

How real is it?

Writer/director Spike Jonze has created one of the most challenging and provocative movies of the year.  Her just blows me away with its everything.

First, Jonze is hitting on some major themes about society.  As we become more connected technologically, we see humanity becoming less connected in reality as hordes of people walk around connected to their phones and tablets, not even acknowledging the existence of those around them.

The images equally are familiar and shocking, especially moments when Theodore is acting in ways that everyone around him should be captivated or scared, but don’t take the time to react because they don’t notice.  Even Theodore’s job as a letter writer is so absurdly frightening as we see people are willing to pay top dollar to have someone else express their love for the special person in their lives, but they can’t find the words to do it themselves, or fear taking that emotional leap or exposing themselves to that danger of real emotion.

Second, this is some great dialogue.  The conversations between Theodore and Samantha sing with realism.  We are listening to two people finding each other, not some long speeches or the utterly too perfect words coming out of their mouths.

Third, WOW! The acting is amazing.  Johansson is flirty, bouncy, and full of life in the most irresistible way possible, and we can only hear her voice, so she creates a character with the personality of a man’s fantasies (and can’t take advantage of her other assets that men fantasize about).  She’s the adorable girl of your dreams, while Phoenix is so good as the shy boy full of pain who slowly emerges from his shell as he gets to feel confident with Samantha.  He shows us the man’s evolution.

The two have stunning chemistry together, and I can’t say enough about Phoenix and what he shows us as Theodore looks back on the pain in his life, but also displays a shining hopefulness as the relationship grows and frightening vulnerability when things might be going south.  The two make you forget this is a computer and a guy falling in love to be one of the best love stories of the year.

Her is romantic with some funny moments that come out of nowhere and ideas that should spur yourself to ask if you are still part of humanity, or one of the drones constantly looking at your phone.

4waffles_sml4 Waffles (Out of 4)

Her is rated R for language, sexual content and brief graphic nudity.

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