A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system that's designed to meet his every need.
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Theodore is a lonely man in the final stages of his divorce. When he's not working as a letter writer, his down time is spent playing video games and occasionally hanging out with friends. He decides to purchase the new OS1, which is advertised as the world's first artificially intelligent operating system, "It's not just an operating system, it's a consciousness," the ad states. Theodore quickly finds himself drawn in with Samantha, the voice behind his OS1. As they start spending time together they grow closer and closer and eventually find themselves in love. Having fallen in love with his OS, Theodore finds himself dealing with feelings of both great joy and doubt. As an OS, Samantha has powerful intelligence that she uses to help Theodore in ways others hadn't, but how does she help him deal with his inner conflict of being in love with an OS? Written byBob Philpot
Talk about closing with a bang. Spike Jonze's long-awaited original
film about a writer that falls in love with his operating system is not
only the best film to play at this year's New York Film Festival; it
very well could be the very best film of the year. "Her" is the finest
writing and directorial endeavor of Spike Jonze's career. And then
there's the towering and crowning work of Academy Award nominee Joaquin
Phoenix who proves once again, he's the finest actor working today,
hands down. You can't find a more dynamic and compelling story about
the human connection and where we're headed as a society.
When "Her" opens up, it snaps you immediately into the story. Phoenix
plays Theodore, a writer for a website that makes letters for just
about anyone. As he tries to find life during the midst of his divorce
from his wife Catherine (played by a beautiful Rooney Mara), Theodore
finds solace in a friendship with a new OS (operating system) named
Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). The two develop a relationship
in a world where OS's are becoming the norm with society.
Jonze's has never been the conventional director as we've seen in his
other brilliant efforts "Being John Malkovich" and "Where the Wild
Things Are." Jonze sets out to tell a story and deliver all the
intricate details for us to understand each character. His focus on
Theodore, giving him a real sense of loneliness without falling into
cliché character ticks and beats that we've seen countless times in
other romantic films, Jonze constructs a real man living in a world
where technology has taken precedent over human connection.
Christopher Nolan should take notes from Jonze on the assembling of
female counterparts in a story. Catherine and Theodore's friend Amy,
played by the always dependable Amy Adams, both feel genuinely
authentic. Mara, who's already delivered one other powerful performance
in "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" earlier this year, is finely utilized.
She shows once again that she's a true professional, with limited
screen time (many in flashbacks); she can staple herself in your
Amy Adams is always the sprinkle on top in all of her films. As "Amy,"
the awkward friend and neighbor who sympathizes more with Theodore more
than she'd like to, Adams expertly executes. With four prior Oscar
nominations to her credit, her stunning portrayal is just another
fantastic pin to add to her credits. She could find traction during the
awards season if the film hits in the right way. That's also part to
the petty Oscar rules about rewarding voice performances because if
that wasn't the case, Scarlett Johansson would be on stage holding an
Oscar of her own next March. As "Samantha," Johansson has never tapped
into the essence of her abilities as an actress the way she does in
"Her." As an OS, full of wonder and curiosity, "Samantha" is
essentially a child. Learning at a rapid rate and studying the
behaviors of the human mind, she looks at the world through the eyes of
Theodore. Johansson holds our hand in through the tale, even when her
voice isn't on screen. This is the type of work that could convince the
Board of Governors to rethink the eligibility of an acting performance.
This is a masterful work that I'll remember for years to come.
And then there's Joaquin Phoenix...oh, Mr. Phoenix. Fresh off his
historic performance in Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" just a year
ago, I didn't think he could impress me so soon and yet here we are.
His sensitive and perceptive take on the role is what films are all
about. It's one of the best things that 2013 has offered and a
performance that could land him his first Oscar. I think Phoenix
himself was impressed with the work he and his colleagues have
accomplished. At the press conference, he actually gave an answer to
one of the questions from the audience. If anyone was in attendance at
the conference for James Gray's "The Immigrant" - a prickly, disengaged
Phoenix put on his sunglasses and put the microphone on the floor. This
is a performance that you can identify with. He's not simply awkward
for the sake of being, he has baggage and connection issues. There's
sincerity in his words and mannerisms. A getaway in a cabin, alone but
with "Samantha" encapsulates everything about Theodore. Phoenix
achieves the impossible and is an instant Oscar contender.
But "Her" isn't just about the writing and performances; it's an all-
around technical marvel. Most notably the Production Design of K.K.
Barrett, who has worked on "Where the Wild Things Are." Our story takes
place in a futuristic (though never said how far ahead) Los Angeles and
with shooting overseas, Barrett captures the clout of the city and its
inside counterparts. Cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema's use of colors
and smooth palettes are things of a dream. Affectionately snuggling up
to Phoenix as he whispers the sweetness of words to "Samantha" or the
sweetness of a new letter at work, Hoytema has quickly become one of my
favorite DP's, especially following "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" and
"Let the Right One In." Arcade Fire and Karen O. are simply magic in
their music that accompanies our story about love. A modern yet
classical composition that in key scenes could move you to tears.
"Her" is one of the best love stories I've witnessed in some time.
Charlie Kaufman will always have the honor of penning my favorite love
story of all-time "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" but Spike
Jonze and "Her" are giving it a true run for the money at the moment.
Warner Bros. must know what they have with a limited release in late
Read More @ http://www.awardscircuit.com
Spike Jonze's latest feature 'Her', set in the not-too-distant future,
tells the story of Theodore Twombly (Phoenix) who finds himself falling
in love with 'Samantha', an advanced operating system voiced by the
sultry Scarlett Johansson. It is clear to see why this film was chosen
by the National Board of Review as the best film of 2013: the visual
style and extensive use of pastel colours is a triumph in itself, and
the acting, editing, costumes and screenplay are all worthy of
I went to an awards screening of 'Her' and was pleased to find out that
the film was not at all what I was expecting. It has such a distinct
style, and Joaquin Phoenix carries the film with tremendous grace as
the complicated and sensitive protagonist. The film is mostly Phoenix
alone with Johansson's voice (reminiscent of Sandra Bullock in
'Gravity' or Robert Redford in 'All Is Lost' - two other 2013 films
mainly revolving around one solitary character), but the audience never
feels abandoned by the lack of other characters as we begin to forget
that 'Samantha' is just really just a computer.
'Her' is a complex film with a much deeper meaning that lies beneath
the surface. A beautifully crafted motion picture, this quirky love
story is sure to resonate with you once you've seen it. It is an
extremely interesting (and realistic) look at the future - Jonze's
quaint and poignant film is a must-see! 9/10
"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our
humanity." Albert Einstein
No better romance is on the screen in 2013 than Spike Jonze's
insightful Her. It's about a writer in the future, Theodore, who falls
in love with his new operating system (gravelly, sexy voice of Scarlett
Johansson), just as he is reluctantly divorcing Catherine (Rooney
Mara). The always complicated paths of love make sense as we witness
the Platonic relationship develop, sans flesh and sans insanity that
usually comes with that flesh.
Her is a simple film that offers a view of love I never thought could
come from a machine and its software. Although critics will cite the
theme as a screed against the distancing of technology and our growing
isolation from each other, and they will be right, I offer the sub
theme that only when we strip ourselves of sensual bonds can we see the
purity of emotional love, an essence of which Plato would have
approved. Yes, although technology is mediating our lives at a rapid
pace, we fall back to a personal drive to love and be loved that is
physical in its best form but understood best if we can distance
ourselves from that physicality.
This delightfully intimate and non-violent film from acclaimed
absurdist director Spike Jonze is more emotionally involving than even
Enough Said (one of 2013's best romances) because the interaction
between the software and the man is all verbal, no glimpse of the
gorgeous Johansson allowed. Although this intuitive OS does allow mind
sex, even that activity is abstract, allowing us to realize how
connecting with a live human is in the mind still and one of life's
great gifts, orgasm or not.
Her allows us to witness the evolution of love separate from the
encumbrances of physicality. Released from the bonds of appearance,
voice is the seducer, not in rude sexual nuance but rather in the care
that comes from love of the mind, not the body.
K.K. Barrett's production design, Austin Gorg's art direction, and Gene
Serdena's set decoration are memorable: full of comfortable light, much
glass overlooking the city, and modern but warm furniture both in LA
and Singapore. These artists understand that the fusion of technology
and art is not a battle but a collaboration that further helps us
understand the intricate workings of human emotion.
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
Arthur C. Clarke