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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Movie Review - Her

Her (2013)
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Chris Pratt, and Olivia Wilde
Featuring the vocal talent of Scarlett Johansson
Directed by Spike Jonze

Full disclosure:  I watched Her immediately following shoveling a ton of snow and my tired body and rattled brain likely wasn't ready for the serious tone displayed by writer-director Spike Jonze.  While I appreciated the somewhat depressing look at love and intimacy presented by Jonze, I'm fully aware that a second viewing a few years from now may give me a greater appreciation of the film -- or may simply confirm my feelings that Her is good, but nothing more than that.

Joaquin Phoenix is Theodore Twombly, a thirtysomething guy who works as a writer of sorts.  You see, the film takes place in presumably the not-so-distant future and Theodore gets hired by regular folks to pen love notes or write personalized letters to their significant others.  (Odd, but kind of ingenious in the way it furthers the "lack of personal connection" in relationships that the film wants to highlight.)  Having just separated from his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara) and going through some rough divorce proceedings with her, Theodore downloads a new operating system for his computerized devices that is programmed to carry on conversations with its user.  Named Samantha (and voiced by Scarlett Johansson), the app quickly becomes a huge part of Theodore's daily life and, perhaps despite his best efforts, he becomes romantically attached to it/her.

Perhaps the reason for my lack of utter enjoyment of Her is the fact that I can't help but think that it paints a rather grim picture of our future.  While I loved Jonze's rendering of our country's upcoming years (set design and costumes were really top notch -- not too futuristic, but just enough to make their points), it's ultimately a bit disheartening.  While I think the film attempts to aim for your heart, it never really struck me there.  Phoenix is quite good as the lovable, though inherently sad Theodore, and it's incredibly easy to see why he fell for the sultry voice of Johansson, but despite their relationship being surprisingly believable, it was a tiny bit flat.  Perhaps that was the point, however -- a relationship with a "thing" rather than another person is going to be lacking that intimate connection.  (And see, as I type this, herein lies why I probably should watch this again...I'm liking it more as I ponder the film's conceptual ideals.)

With a great supporting turn from Amy Adams (is it wrong that I found her geeky character here much sexier than her alluring turn in American Hustle), Her is worth a watch, but I will admit that I'm a bit surprised it cracked the Best Picture list of nine.  Then again, as I mentioned, perhaps I wasn't in the right mindset and it may need another viewing in time.

The RyMickey Rating:  B

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