Sunday, February 16, 2014

Her (2013)

"I feel like I can be anything with you."

Set in the future, Her is about a man who fell in love with his female operating system (It's Scarlet Johansson, what testosterone-infused human being wouldn't? LOL). Sounds silly? Not really. In this internet age, every kind of relationship is possible. Who's to say that falling in love with someone you haven't even seen is not right? You talk to that "person" every single day, you share your innermost thoughts, your dreams, your feelings. You tell that "person" everything without second thoughts. You "connect" with that "person." Who's to say that's not love?  This film gives us a closer look & a wider understanding of what a relationship is, conventional or not. Love is universal. Emotions are real as they are felt.

Directed & written by:  Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation)
Starring:  Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Rooney Mara, Amy Adams
Music by:  Arcade Fire
Cinematography by:  Hoyte van Hoytema (Let the Right One In, The Fighter)
Editing by:  Eric Zumbrunnen (Being John Malkovich), Jeff Buchanan
Running Time:  126 mins
Box Office:  a little over $23 million

Her is cinematically beautiful, that's undeniable. The romance underneath the almost tangible melancholy is so bittersweet you can't help but feel it... get affected by it. You can't look away, even when you're witnessing a somehow laughable but sweet sex scene from Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson.

Aside from the awesome music (Arcade Fire people! Oh and Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs! Oh yeah!), cinematography, & Phoenix' poignant portrayal, there's also this small yet remarkable performance from Amy Adams. How understated, how absolutely potent. Rooney Mara is also effective as the woman shrouded in mystery, seen mostly from Theodore's (Phoenix) flashbacks - a representation of a beautiful past, a source of gloom in the present. This is also one of Scarlett Johansson's best performances. LOL.

This is the one scene I truly connected with.

This is simply one of the best film of 2013 thanks to Spike Jonze's brilliant handling of every camera shots, not to mention his remarkable solo screenwriting debut. I also love the set design & costume! The high-waisted pants - sexy! Haha. It just really transports you to another world in a credible way. Everything is beautiful, even in those scenes where sadness is magnified. Joaquin Phoenix is sublime. Those close-up shots where you can see every bit of minute facial expressions/emotions just makes you fall in love with him as an actor... and Jonze as a director.

And yet there's something missing that prevented me from fully connecting to this film. All the flavor is there, it really is a well-made, unique film. But I just wasn't drawn to it - or it didn't keep me glued as I initially was. Maybe you have to have your heart broken to feel this? Or at least have loved like Twombly has. I haven't experienced both.

Theodore Twombly is one of the most likeable film characters I've seen, thanks to Joaquin Phoenix' very nuanced acting. You feel his emotions. You root for the guy. Maybe because, as his friend said, he is part-man, part-woman. He's so sensitive, you just wanna hug him. But despite the brilliant screenplay, I just can't help but think, where this relationship is going? At some point, I'm not even sure if I want it to work.  When Samantha SPOILERS: decided to leave with the other OSs, I was like, o-okay. Sure. What's next? Will he get back with his ex? Or develop a relationship with Adams' character? But then again, maybe this isn't about the love story per se. Maybe this is just about a story of heartbreak, of being left/jilted by someone you love. This is a story of a person coming to terms with such an experience. A common occurence told in a slightly unique way. Maybe we are just shown that things don't end (or continue, for that matter) the way we want it to be, and we just have to deal with such loss and move on. That we're only here briefly, and we should definitely allow ourselves.... joy.

My Rating: 3.5/5 - a purely subjective rating. I would rate it 4.5 - 5 for its cinematic merit.

Countdown to the Oscars: Her is nominated for Best Picture, Best Music, & Best Original Screenplay in the 86th Academy Awards. Torn between this & 12 Years a Slave for Best Picture. But for Music & Original Screenplay, I choose Her. Oh and, Phoenix should have been included in the Best Actor category. Just sayin'.

Here are my reviews of other Oscar-nominated films:
Frozen - 4/5
Before Midnight - 4.5/5
Gravity - 4.5/5

YOUR POINT OF VIEW: What Oscar awards do you think this movie deserves?

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  1. Wow!!! You really are the most honest writer I have ever read. You reach in and grab feelings when reading your work here that are so familiar. I enjoy your reviews, and this one made me smile for it was written so truthfully!!! Good work here. :)

    1. I try to be as honest as possible :) Films are more than entertainment, they connect to you intellectually and emotionally. I try to incorporate how films made me feel. That's how I write my reviews. Thank you for enjoying them, that means a lot :)

  2. Thank you for sharing them :)

  3. Great review. I was meaning to see this movie later in the week, guess, i'll be watching it tonight. I like these kinds of stories about love and loss, so it might be right up my alley :)

    1. thanks Tim! A lot of my guy friends related to this film, one was even gushing and babbling about how this film connected to him in the most powerful way. Meanwhile, others complain that this is the most dull film they've watched this year. It's just so fascinating how differently we interpret a movie. It's adds more fun :)



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