REVIEW: ‘Her’

Director:
Spike Jonze
Cast:
Joaquin Phoenix
Rooney Mara
Amy Adams
Scarlett Johansson
Rated: R

Good science fiction is all about creating a world that is different or perhaps farther in the future than our own, yet still is able to make strong social statement about our society and keeping it centered around a well structured story. “Her” manages to capture all of this and is the reason it’s one of 2013’s best.

The film follows a the character Theodore (Phoenix), who is in the going through the final stages of a painful divorce and now finds himself all alone. On one of the days that he is on his way home from work, Theodore finds out that a new operating system with fully functioning A.I. has been put out on the market.

Deciding he needs the upgrade, Theodore purchases the new OS. After going through the set-up stages, Theodore meets the artificial intelligence, which features the voice of Scarlett Johansson and chooses its own name, taking the title Samantha. From that point, the film explores the relationship between Theodore and Samantha.

Where “Her” really succeeds is the balancing act it takes, featuring both a charming, smart romantic comedy and a thought-provoking sci-fi look at society and where our own is going in terms of technology. The story is very well structured, as it focuses on the relationship between Theodore and Samantha and makes it feel genuine and real instead of gimmicky and cookie-cutter.

In terms of its focus on sci-fi, the aspect is shown through the multiple devices and technology that surrounds the main characters. Almost every single person in the movie utilizes advanced phones and ear pieces and it seems like everyone in the movie is in their own little world. The film shows this in a more subtle, yet effective manner which allows the message to get across without fully smacking the audience across the head.

The aspect of the film that really makes it powerful, though are the performances between both Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson. The back and forth between the two is so good, even though Johansson was voice acting the entire picture. During the filmmaking process, Johansson must have been acting in the same room as the interactions and chemistry made for two believable characters.

The supporting cast in the movie was fine, but not necessarily the most memorable. Amy Adams plays one of Theodore’s friends in the movie, and is alright in the role, just not really amazing. This is probably more because of the story centering on the main two characters than really being an ensemble, though.

The only real issue with the movie is a bit of predictability that gives hints of where the movie is going to end up when certain characters are introduced.

“Her” is by far one of the best of 2013. The way it grounds itself in a good romantic comedy story and then goes to a higher level by injecting the sci-fi aspect was fantastic and Director Spike Jonze deserves recognition for bringing it all together. High 4 out of 5.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

My name is Matthew Liedke. I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, but I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I now write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead where I studied journalism and film. Outside of film, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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