Friday, 17 January 2014

Spike Jonze's 'Her' Film Review

Spike Jonze's 'Her' quietly accumulated five Academy Award nominations including Best Motion Picture and is an engrossing tale of loneliness and love.

Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a recently divorced letter writer, purchases an intuitive OS (operating system) Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson and the two soon develop a romantic relationship. However, as the honeymoon period wears off, the two discover the limitations of technology, struggling to face the reality of their metaphysical relationship. Will love conquer all?

A not-so-distant projection of our current trends create this master crafted vision of intuitive AI, much like Apple's Siri. The movie is an exploration and examination on our dependence on technology and really hits home with its themes and concepts. Our love for technology is literally taken to that level in this raw, simple and honest film. 

Beautifully shot, the cinematography was a delightful experience. The world that Theodore lives in appears to be enriched by technology and is otherwise a dull and grey space. The mundane white walls of his apartment is filled with life with his colourful video games. The colours, imagery and soundtrack combined, created that detached feeling of joy and you can sense Theodore being lost in Samantha as they date.

At just over two hours, we never waver to look at the time- the movie is simply captivating and compelling. The themes of real life relationships were explored even between Theodore's unlikely romance, including jealousy, marriage, faithfulness. 

The same reason which Theodore falls in love with Samantha is the same one we love watching (or hearing her) as she discovers herself and the world. The excitement of learning about life, humanity, consciousness, feelings, pain, embarrassment- whilst bringing her joy, also brings her pain. It is like watching your child take their first steps and was a refreshing take on self discovery in its purest form.

"How do you share your life with somebody?"~Samantha

Through the questions Samantha asks, we too think of answers and reflect on those themes and perhaps will also discover something about ourselves, values and our relationships.

The climatic revelation by Samantha towards the end of the movie was heartbreaking, a sharp truth which is inevitable and almost foreshadowed but is nonetheless painful to watch. The conclusion, though emotional, was beautiful and offered a cathartic resolve. 

An added mention goes to the beautiful soundtrack in the movie. Arcade Fire's Supersymmetry fit perfectly to the movie as well as the piano compositions that accompanied the movie was memsmerising.

Joaquin Phoenix- Theodore
Amy Adams- Amy
Rooney Mara- Catherine
Olivia Wilde- Blind Date
Scarlett Johansson- Voice of Samantha

Joaquin Phoenix was uninhibited and carefree in a transformation of a role. Totally believable and likeable, yet vulnerable, real. Despite supported by mega-stars Amy Adams, Rooney Mara and Olivia Wilde, they never take over but contribute conscientiously to their respective parts, each playing a different female relational role as they uncover more of Theodore's inner character.

Scarlett Johansson voices Samantha and is sweet, flirtatious, curious, honest... though you don't see her, you can feel her struggles, her hesitations, her physicality. 

'Her' is a beautifully captivating love story between a man and an operating system: simply a story of how love can transcend physicality and break boundaries. In a future vision that is on our doorstep, the themes are critical yet poetic, ultimately about the relational struggles, joys, pains, loss and forgiveness. 

Though it offers 'Lost in Translation' vibes, it is an original and emotional movie which deserves all its Oscar nominations and I am proud to say is the best movie I have seen in 2014 thus far.

The movie is released on Valentines Day here in the UK.

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