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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Her

CREEPY
Her - Creepy

In the digital age, there has never been an easier time to find a partner and begin a relationship.  Whether it be a one-night stand, or something a little more meaningful, you can find "The Future (enter your name here)" quicker than you can send an e-mail these days.  However, there are others in the digital age that have decided that technology is a much more worth-while partner and have fallen head over heels with their smart phones, computers, and video game consoles.  Trust me, I love my phone and all my hi-tech gadgets, but they wouldn't be able to replace the touch of a loving partner.  In Spike Jonze's latest film "Her" he explores our infatuation with technology and how love can blossom from the most unlikely source.  It's both a heart-warming and creepy exercise in film-making.

"Her" follows Theodore, played superbly by Joaquin Phoenix, a man going through a divorce and his own struggle to connect with people outside of his work, where he creates handwritten notes for strangers.  Looking for a new type of relationship, and to ease his own loneliness, Theodore purchases the new OS1 and we are introduced to Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson.  Samantha, who is programmed to learn while in the care of Theodore, fills the void that was left when Theodore's wife left, who is played by the overwhelmingly underwhelming Rooney Mara.  As their relationship continues, a bond is created that is both endearing and sweet, while still coming off as extremely creepy.

Once again, Phoenix is up to the challenge of carrying a film almost completely by himself.  He is the heartbeat of the film, appearing in nearly every single frame of "Her" and he is absolutely a delight.  It's funny that just a few years ago he had had enough of Hollywood and was dead set on becoming the next great rap star.  Call him what you will, but when it comes to acting he remains one of the best in the business.

The supporting roles of Amy Adams and Chris Pratt are also strong, but if Phoenix is the heartbeat, than the soulful, husky, and seductive voice of Johansson is the soul of "Her."  It's very rare to be taken by a role that is solely voice-based, but the "chemistry" that Phoenix and Johannson share is something that needs to be seen and just goes to show how great of an actor Phoenix really is.  When you think about it he has to play off of himself most of the film and I don't think most actors would be up to the challenge of creating something organic out of something that isn't even there.  It's reminiscent of Tom Hanks' performance in "Cast Away" to a certain degree.

While "Her" showcases some great acting, it also showcases some very troubling and creepy moments.  Taking place in a not so distant future, will we become so jaded and self-involved that we will need the help of computers to show us how to be social and loving again?  Jonze has created a great conundrum where the act of being an introvert (talking/texting on your phone) is the only way to become an extrovert and enjoy life.  It's fantastic psychology at work and is a touchstone for this current generation.

Overall, Jonze has created one of the most original love stories in recent memory.  It deals with people that have lost their way and need that extra push to get out and live a normal life, so to speak.  "Her" is a film that will surprise some, confound others, and probably creep out a few others, but that is what great films do; they make you feel emotion, want to talk about it, and maybe even make you want to become someone better.  That's "Her."

Fun Fact:  English actress, Samantha Morton, was originally the voice of Samantha before Scarlett Johansson was brought in to re-read all the dialogue for the film.

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