Her (2013)

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As most of you should know, at the moment in the most general sense, we as a species are not headed in a good direction. Somewhere along the path, we lost our way. Our priorities and morals are misshapen and failing, the technological and political advances we make are cancelled out by our abuse of our planet and each other, and we’re struggling to co-exist, to keep our progression afloat. All in all, our future does not look bright. That being said, the ship is being righted somewhat, you know…we are getting there, even if it is just one maladjusted step at a time. We’re beginning to consider the consequences and outcomes of our actions and creations just as heavily and frequently as we marvel at them. And it looks as if our continued existence, harmony, and evolution is significantly greater in importance, well…at least mow more than it has ever been.

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Sadly however, despite this new growth and consciousness of how important our cohesiveness is, we continue to conjure up new ways of interacting with one another…quicker, inhuman, artificial ways. Devices, methods, and intelligence that instead of drawing us together, instead of doing what we intended them to do, is distancing us, alienating communication, both physical and verbal. It’s becoming a bit excessive and ridiculous, at least to me anyway. I get that with these tools we are also bringing the world together, but, I mean, at what cost? And where do we draw the line? We’re losing what makes our very presence in this universe so extraordinary. It feels as if these easier ways of connecting are hampering our intellectual ascension, creating an inability to converse face-to-face, and leaving us unable to read one another. “I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”

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That’s an Albert Einstein quote, by the way, just thought I’d let you know so I don’t get tagged with plagiarism, but I digress. The quote, along with the personal rant before it was ignited by Spike Jonze’s transcendent film “Her.” I feel it’s important to convey what exactly a film evokes in me and the end result is often something like the rant above. Just so you know, “Her” centres around Theodore (Phoenix), a lonely, romantic writer who winds up falling in love with his new operating system (Johansson). I figured I’d let you in on the plot so you could know the reason behind my rambling. So, now that you understand where my blurb stems from, I bet it makes a lot more sense. To be honest though, there’s a hell of a lot more to this film than just singling out our mistakes and how we are going to pay dearly for them. So enough of my blabbering on, let’s get into the film.

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Unlike any love story you’ve ever experienced. “Her,” written and directed by the aforementioned Spike Jonze, is a bizarre concoction of comedy, science-fiction, and of course, romance. Its premise is a bit obscure and might take a little time to settle in. However once it does, the confusion and hilarity of what you are actually watching will will wear off and the film’s immersive, heartbreaking, foreshadowing nature will haunt you, make you ache. The script is genuine, disheartening, and completely captures the lyricism and poetic inconsistencies of the language we use everyday. It’s extremely difficult to recreate such instinctive, calculated emotions and dialogue, but Jonze does a superlative job in doing so. The soundtrack for this lovely film, which I am currently listening to, was composed by none other than Arcade Fire, amongst others. It’s one that’ll stick with you and you’ll be listening to it consistently long after the film is over.

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Jonze, whom you might know as the director of such masterpieces as “Adaptation” and “Being John Malkovich,” brings exactly what you’d expect to the table. His form is as impeccable as ever. The camerawork is really an achievement all its own. Shifting from the close, emotionally strong, driven performances to endless skylines and scenery. He displays this ambient, smart, poignant, vulgar, atmospheric, sexy, unflinching yarn flawlessly. The story moves swiftly and effortlessly. Transitioning from a simple tale of a lonely writer into an intricate, veritable look at our expanding knowledge and existence. Jonze does this while eventually, occasionally simultaneously, providing the reason why this growth will be our downfall…unless we come to terms with the truth. That being, no matter how we break our bounds and overcome obstacles, our structure, our very make-up will always bring us back to one another.

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Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have one of the strongest ensembles 2013 has to offer keeping your footing. “Her” features Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson in the lead roles with Amy Adams, Olivia Wilde, Rooney Mara, and Chris Pratt running support. We all know that Adams has the chops, so her magnificence shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. Nevertheless, somehow, she still manages to bewilder and her performance here is nothing short of perfection. Wilde, who I feel finally won her critics over with one of my favourites this year, “Drinking Buddies” continues to move forward with another strong effort. Pratt plays the quirky, visceral, long-time friend infallibly, something he’s done for a long time. As for Mara, who still remains on the periphery of the mainstream for some odd reason, gives another powerful effort here. She’s that odd, house-hold name that everyone seems to push to the back burner.

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Phoenix and Johansson, our star-crossed lovers, search endlessly for a way to make their unconventional romance work despite all the restrictions. And I must say, they look…and sound I should say, quite striking doing so. It’s utterly remarkable how the two play off one another. Johansson might not be able to garner an Oscar nomination due to some idiotic stipulation, but in my books, she’s got the award wrapped up. As for Phoenix, there’s no doubt in my mind he’ll grab a nod himself, possibly take it home all together. I know it’s simple fiction, a movie, but the chemistry, the sparks these two create is something of such authenticity, it has to be seen to be believed.

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Spike Jonze’s “Her” is beautiful, smart, disconcerting, and depressingly emotional. “Her” will be fighting for nominations this award season, there’s no doubt, the only question is, how many will it win?

Her: 9.5 out of 10.

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About Joseph@thecinemamonster

Aspiring writer who absolutely adores film and television. thecinemamonster.com

Posted on December 31, 2013, in Romance and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.

  1. Trying to talk my wife into seeing this, maybe for tonight. Thanks for the fine review and your readership, my friend. Happy New Year.

  2. Excellent review, sir! Very thoughtful, especially the opening. I’ve heard good things about this film, but your review might be the most positive one I’ve seen so far. Makes me think I should look into this one! P.S. A little something for you: http://caragaleblog.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/versatile-blogger-and-blog-of-the-year-awards/

  3. Fantastic review. I can’t wait to see this!

  4. Lots of love for this film in critics circles. I haven’t seen it but the reviews have been sparkling!

  5. I really enjoyed the film as well. One of the best scripts on 2013.

  6. I don’t know about this one… I’m currently OUT on Phoenix…

  7. what a creepy thing to do a relationship with your phone ugh

  8. Great write-up Joseph, and I can’t express how much I await eagerly this film to get to my area. I am beyond ecstatic. Long time since I’ve seen a Phoenix movie. I really think the last time was Signs. . . lol

  9. I really want to see this. Even more so after your glowing appraisal Joseph!

  10. Your fantastic review really whets my appetite to see this buddy. I love Jonze’s work and this I hear is his best film to date.

  11. Wow dude, this is some of your best writing to date. I love the intro you gave this post! And all of your points were articulated so well. Great job! Please keep more reviews like this one coming. I haven’t seen this movie yet, but I do really want to. Especially now that you’ve gotten me all fired up about it.

  12. Beautiful write-up, Joe! This is one of my most anticipated of the year! I mean, that cast!

  13. Really want to see this! But, of course, like most “worthy” end of year films, we always have to wait for them in the UK. :-/

  14. Awesome review! I really cannot wait to see it. I’m very curious about Johansson’s performance – I’m usually not impressed with voice performances but she is getting so much acclaim for this one.

    • Thank you so much! Johansson gives, in my opinion, the best voice performances I’ve ever witnessed. I can’t even think of one that comes remotely close. Too bad she won’t get recognized for it on some stupid technicalities the academy needs to change! Thanks again :).

  1. Pingback: My Top 10 Films of 2013: | The Cinema Monster

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