Director: Spike Jonze
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson
Review by Matthew Toffolo
A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly-purchased operating system that's designed to meet his every need.
What I'm Curious About
I wonder if this film is going to stand the test of time. It's a brilliant film now, but what about 10 years from now when the technology and future catches up to this movie. It's almost like watching Kubrick's '2001' today. It loses it's charm because the future has caught up to the theme of the film. Of course, perhaps '2001' is a bad example as 'Her' is a far different film with a lot more layers and charm. But will the heart and soul of 'Her' be enough for it to hold up for future generations to watch? I'm just curious about that.
What I Love About This Film
No other film that I've watched in the last 5 years has stayed with me longer than 'Her'. There is so much happening that I can relate with that I'm left wondering if this is the best film of 2013. The best thing I like about this movie is that it doesn't make a distinct judgement on technology and people in today's world. The amazing thing about his relationship with the Operating System is that she is very good for him. She's smart. She listens. She's stands up for herself. She gives him confidence on his writing. She helps him organize his thoughts and feelings. And he gives back as it's not just a one-sided relationship.
Of course it's an Operating System and there is a human element missing. The OS (as they call it) is the perfect partner. Perhaps too perfect. But the question they don't raise is that this is a bad thing. There isn't the obvious theme and judgement that the OS is bad for people. Some people will go away thinking that this movie gives that theory. But I think the brilliance of 'Her' is that we project whatever our own feelings are of the new technology onto the film. There's very thin line that director Spike Jonze stays in throughout the film and by not crossing into any black and white judgement makes 'Her' a must see.
The casting is perfect. I can't imagine another actor playing the lead role than Joaquin Phoenix. There is an innosense and loveability factor to his persona. We understand that this flawed man is trying to love, so we root for him in his relationship with his OS. Another actor could have ruined this film.
And having Scarlett Johannson play the OS voice is another brilliant casting choice. She deserves a special award for this portrayal because it's never been done before since '2001' with the voice of Hal. But she has a lot more voice time than Hal. Johansson could be up for a best actress award if the critics weren't so clinged onto the past of what an actress really is.