The best thing, worst thing, and main thing about the Spike Jonze flick “Her” in about the time it takes to watch the trailer. Don’t forget to take a shot at the “best ever” challenge in the comments!
Wow, If there was ever a writer director who understood my brain it’s Spike Jonze. Wait is that really something I want to admit?
“Her” is the latest film from Mr. Spike Jonze, the genius behind movies like Adaptation and Being John Malkovich. He once again takes us on a mind bending journey, this time into a future where our relationship with technology is taken to a whole new level. Joaquin Phoenix takes center stage as a man dealing with the end of his marriage and what happens when he installs a new operating system voiced by Scarlett Johansson whose intuitive programming has an impact on almost every area of his life. Now, to say that Spike Jonze has a unique view on the world is a bit of an understatement, and yet somehow he always seem to evoke real emotion from me and this movie is no different.
Her is breathtakingly compelling. Lets start with Spike’s incredible look at the future of technology. It isn’t just that he has some cool ideas about how we will interact with our technology someday, it’s that every bit of it seems fully realized and thought through. Not only that, but it all just seems so stinkin’ plausible. Which I think has to do with how much of his future still looks like today, because honestly things never quite change as much as we think they do (I’m looking at you Back to the Future). The technology is progressive while at the same time being very human. Jonze is a genius at dosing his abstraction with honesty and intimacy and he absolutely hits this one out of the park, creating an even more accessible tale than Adaptation or Malkovich and still bringing back some of the cleverness and quirk that seemed to be missing in Where the Wild Things Are. Yup, he’s my best thing. And that’s not to take anything away the performances either. Joaquin Phoenix is stunning as the hesitant everyman, bringing a sheepishness to the leading man role that shouldn’t work but somehow does. And Scarlett Johansson absolutely deserves acting awards for her role as the voice in his head even if you never see her once on screen. Her performance is incredibly moving even though she is stripped of all the visual cues that actors usually rely on to make it work.
As far as negatives go there aren’t many, I mean I felt there were some subtle missteps in the way video games of the future are portrayed, and I found a couple of the surrounding performances to be a bit distracting. and I’ll go ahead and tag the worst thing as the general feeling of malaise that pervades the movie. Even though I get that the fatigue is an important part of the themes and message it brought a sense of hopelessness at times that didn’t quite match up for me. I have to say though, all of those things are extremely slight and barely register as much of a complaint by the time the credits role.
All in All I love “Her”. Spike Jonze has once again written and directed an incredibly meaningful and powerful story in the midst of his beautifully twisted brain. I give Her an A.
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