review//HER

Grade: A+

HER
Directed by Spike Jonze
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson

Spike Jonze is one of my favorite filmmakers, so it was a pretty easy task appealing to me with his latest film Her. Telling the story of a man in a not-so-distant future Los Angeles who falls in love with his computer operating system, Her is a modern day love story in the absurd sense of the term. Despite its unwavering uniqueness in delivering a clever twist on the genre, Her is a classic tale of love lost and found. While it can be depressing, what's really sad is how closely it resembles most of our lives today. I can't imagine going anywhere without my iPhone. I might as well be in a relationship with it.

Her stars Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore Twombly, a professional letter writer who spends his days and evenings reminiscing about his recent failed marriage. In the midst of trying to convince himself to sign the divorce papers, he receives the download for a new operating system. After some hilarious "get to know you" questions, the operating system develops the best "type" for him, a female-voiced personality named Samantha. Voiced by Scarlett Johansson, Samantha is endearing, funny, sensitive, and everything a person would be looking for. She's the perfect companion. Theodore and Samantha spend endless nights laughing and getting to know one another. It sounds crazy, but it isn't. Similar to how Lars and the Real Girl was able to make its quirky premise work, Her never goes so bizarre as to seem unrealistic. It takes itself just serious enough to not seem like a SNL parody of an Apple commercial, but not too serious to be pretentious.

Spike Jonze is a genius at creating very specific worlds. His Being John Malkovich and Where the Wild Things Are are just a jumping point for his brilliance here. Like the story, nothing in Her is over-the-top. While not necessarily current, the modernized future of Los Angeles seems realistic enough. The color hues and twinkling camera work just add to the niche that Jonze intends on creating. Arcade Fire's score is the right amount of sound when sound is needed, never overemphasizing or underplaying any of the emotion or words on screen. Jonze's screenplay is what really sets this apart. Samantha's dialogue is so pure and real that any average person would fall for her like Theodore does.

Phoenix is joined in the cast by Amy Adams, Chris Pratt, and Rooney Mara, among others, but he doesn't share the screen too often. Adams' major scene discussing life with Phoenix's Theodore proves she's one of the next generation legends of Hollywood. Phoenix himself is at his mysterious best. Playing introverted, thinking people has become secondhand to him.

It's hard to ever find a movie perfect, but Jonze's Her just might be the perfect film.

Rating: R
Runtime: 126 minutes

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