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Review: Her

Warner Bros. Pictures: Joaquin Phoenix in "Her"Saying that technology has changed how most of us live life in the world today would not be a stretch by any means. Whether you’re at home, at the office or taking a brief afternoon stroll down the street, you’re bound to see electronic devices somewhere and on someone. It’s at the point where life without these devices is almost unthinkable today, but what about the not too distant future? According to Spike Jonze’s Her, it may be even more important than we think it is these days.

The story inside of Her is a story that centers around Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a man who spends his average work day writing heartfelt letters for other people to other people. It’s a job that he’s always been good at, but it looks as if things are getting more complicated for him when you look at his own love life. At this time, Theodore is hopelessly set in melancholy state of mind after a bitter break up from his ex-wife (Rooney Mara) that’s left him single and lonely.

The heartbroken man has nothing going for him at the moment, but that’s all about to change once his eyes become stuck on what’s known as a new artificially intelligent operating system. At first it starts off as another high-tech device in an increasingly high-tech world that people of all ages could get into, but it actually turns out to be more than that. That promise that comes with the latest device in technology is one that no one had heard of at the time and he intends to find out what’s so special about it.

When opening it up to see what it’s capable of, Theodore finds Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), the female voice that’s new to the world and is more than anything he’s ever seen before in an operating system. Samantha is revolutionary, completely intuitive and as close to a human being as you can come without actually having a body. While Theodore is learning about her, she’s learning about him and the world that he resides in. She’s gaining experience and is apparently gaining a whole list of emotions that computers aren’t meant to feel.

This intrigues Theodore and most likely anyone else who has obtained one of these operating systems. After spending some time with Samantha, he becomes infatuated with her while trying to uncover all that she can do, but she’s learning as much if not more than he is. It’s quite an experience for both and there’s certainly a sense of compatibility and friendship in the air as they both connect with one another and look to be falling in love.

On the surface, the premise behind Her may seem somewhat strange and unlikely to the average person, but the real life version of this may not be all that unbelievable when you actually think about. As people, we can sometimes get so caught up in technology and its advancements that we tend to fall in love with all that it offers us. It’s a strange thing that can happen to people who are maybe lonely and needing to find human contact of any kind.

Coming from that perspective, you’re talking about a film that gets its point across easily and effectively.  You can actually say that it kind of gives itself away from that standpoint from early on, but there’s probably enough to make it interesting through much of it for some people. If you’re attentive enough you’ll also probably be able to figure out what’s going to happen through Her from that time all the way to the end.

Her comes toward me with a distinct disadvantage due to the fact that I can barely ever force myself to watch movies that are based strictly on love, romance and the relationships that grow (or dissolve) from them. Now there’s a point to everything we see in this movie that’s focused on our growing obsession with electronics, but at its core, Her is only a love story. In reality, all that separates it from your average movie in this genre is the fact that one primary character is a human while the other one is an operating system. Aside from that (and the end), it’s the same stuff that is in plenty of other films.

In having Her be about a man and his operating system falling for one another, the movie is something that follows Joaquin Phoenix around as he is basically talking to himself throughout most of the film. I had a hard time watching a person do this for two hours and being able to find any legitimate source of entertainment in the process. What I’m saying is that Her is too long when looking at the story that’s the center of attention. If they tried, this could have been over fairly swiftly and we could have gotten the same effect from it while focusing on the same message that ‘s been placed under Spike Jonze’s magnifying glass.

Outside of that, there isn’t really much wrong with Her. It’s a movie that does have a legitimate purpose, is well acted by Joaquin Phoenix and some of what’s on-screen is nice to look at from time to time. I just wished there would have been more given to the audience then what there was, because they certainly had more than enough time to build up on the stuff that we’re asked to view.

I purposely pointed out Phoenix and only Phoenix when talking about the acting for a reason. That’s because most of the other actors do next to nothing and Scarlett Johansson is physically never seen in Her. She’s literally only the voice they use as Samantha, but I think there was a way to physically put her in it without changing even the smallest portion of the film. My idea would have been cool and potentially even making the story even more surreal, but I can’t talk about it, because I don’t want to spoil any part of the movie or any of its scenes.

There’s a part of me that’s saying that Her has quite a few good qualities that many will enjoy and relate to, but it’s something that isn’t good enough for me to love simply because it’s not my style of film. If you love movies about love and all that, you will most likely view this movie from a positive perspective. If you’re like me, you’ll see Her as being not too different from all of what we’ve seen before outside of the primary message they’re pushing. I happen to like that message, but Her is almost nothing more than your typical tale of love in more ways than it should be.

Score: 2.5/5

Rating: R

Director: Spike Jonze

Joaquin Phoenix
Amy Adams
Rooney Mara
Olivia Wilde
Scarlett Johansson (voice only)
Chris Pratt
Portia Doubleday
Sam Jaeger
Kristen Wiig
Bill Hader

Film Length: 126 minutes

Release Dates:
December 18, 2013 (Limited)
December 25, 2013 (Limited)
January 10, 2013 (Wide)

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

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