Film Review – Her

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Her – Directed by Spike Jonze Winner Golden Globe – Best Screenplay. Nominated for 3 Academy Awards – Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Original Song.

Release Date – January 16th 2014

Joaquin Phoenix is Theodore Twombly. He works for “Beautiful Handwritten Letters” dot com. Churning out heartfelt correspondence as a day job and recovering from a marriage breakdown in his private life, he doesn’t have much going for him beyond a talent for writing.

His friend Amy (Amy Adams) is happy to catch up with him in spite of the uncomfortable presence of her partner Charles (Matt Letscher), but Amy wants to hang out with the old him, not “the sad, mopey” him that he has become.

When Theodore updates his computer’s operating system, he is given a choice of a male or female voice.

And so begins his relationship with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson)

For a story premise it doesn’t sound like much – a guy gets the hots for Siri – but Her is so much more.

An artificially intelligent life form, Samantha grows increasingly self aware, and as we’ve seen in films such as the Terminator series, this can be potentially devastating for us human beings.

Spike Jones originally shot the film with Samantha Morton as the voice of Samantha, but wasn’t happy with how it felt and asked Scarlett to step in.

Given what an accomplished performer Morton is (brilliant in Anton Corbijn‘s Control), this was a big move to replace a lead after shooting. Luckily for Jonze, and the audience, it’s a gamble that pays off.

Particularly because we all know how Scarlett Johansson looks – stunning –  and it’s all but impossible not to picture her every time we hear the voice of Theodore’s OS.

This is such a beautifully realised vision of the present and the very near future. We are attached to our “devices” wherever we roam but for all the benefits at our fingertips, Spike Jonze asks the questions, what price are we really paying to stay “connected”?

Spurning real human interaction and relationships in favour of electronic stimulation can only bring us so much satisfaction.

This film, so clearly crafted and hand made, about cutting edge technology that is it’s not here already is literally just minutes away continues to haunt me days after watching it.

Stick around to the credits, not for any post film gags, but to see where it was shot. Because I tried to guess the whole way along and never once picked the primary location. It blew my mind when I discovered where this vision of the future exists right now.

Another thing that struck me was the presence of the colour orange. I have no idea why, but the colour palette and art direction for this film is phenomenal.

I cannot wait to see this again. And again. Profound. Original. Riveting. Funny. Poignant. Sad. So, so good.

It’s true what Tina Fey said about Phoenix at the 2013 Golden Globes – he truly does exist in the future. Even if the poster depicts him as some kind of Tom Selleck – Magnum P.I. fancy dress tribute guy.

5 Stars.

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