Monday, January 13, 2014



Joaquin Phoenix,
Scarlett Johansson


December 18, 2013 (NY/LA)
January 10, 2014 (WIDE)

Spike Jonze

Warner Bros. Pictures

2 hours 6 minutes



It's kind of funny how nobody in this generation thought of making a film about a man falling in love with the tiny computer in his breast pocket until Spike Jonze made "Her."  The premise initially sounds intriguing, but one can only wonder how somebody can effectively pull off telling a love story with a human and a piece of electrical artificial intelligence.  And yet, Jonze pulls it off flawlessly, so much so that you forget that the character of Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson, is even a computer to begin with.  After hearing so much praise from friends and colleagues who were worshipping this film like it was the next coming of Christ, I am very happy to report that all of the positive praise towards "Her" is well deserved.  "Her" is a funny, poignant, relatable, and touching romance that takes your heart strings and plays with them like your heart's a harp.

Set in the near future, I'm personally guessing between 15 and 30 years into the future, this film tells the story of Theodore Twombly.  Theodore is a man who is separated from his wife, works at a letter writing company, and can't seem to get out of this gloomy funk he's in.  That is, until he meets Samantha.  Being the creation of millions of different computer programmers, Samantha is one of the world's first artificially intelligent computer system who was designed specifically for Theodore's personality.  Together these two help each other grow and expand in personality and in life.  And throughout it all, these two become the world's strangest couple as the man and the computer fall in love with each other.

If it wasn't for the undeniably beautiful chemistry between Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson, this film I feel would not have been as special and as incredible to watch.  Phoenix not only gives a heartbreaking and hilarious performance as Twombly, but he also makes the character so relatable and so likable that you can't help but just see yourself in his position, despite his love interest being merely a voice.  Speaking of said voice, Scarlett Johansson brings out such a lively and beautiful performance without even showing her face on screen.  Even though people do just that in animated films, at least you can see the character's faces.  In the case of the character of Samantha, she only has her voice to act with, and she gives such a superb performance, and may arguably be the best performance ever given by Scarlett Johansson.  Same goes for Phoenix as well.  Together, these two actors have created one of the most memorable romantic relationships of the decade thus far.   Amy Adams and Rooney Mara help make up the rest of the incredible cast in this film, but Phoenix and Johansson give the show-stealing performances here.

Despite all of the praise being given to the actors, the real star of this movie is Spike Jonze.  Having been responsible for such films as "Adaptation," "Being John Malkovich," and the highly overlooked "Where The Wild Things Are," Jonze gives moviegoers his most personal and his most intimate story to date.  Not only is he able to direct these talented actors into award-worthy performances, but he's also able to take the people of the world on this incredible journey into the not-so-distant future and make it feel as if this love between man and machine could actually happen.  I love how Jonze lets us connect and relate to this odd romance while at the same time is providing social commentary on how people literally and figuratively in love with their phones and computers.  All of the dialogue is fantastic, being both hilarious and emotionally heart-wrenching at the same time.  I applaud Mr. Jonze for being able to make this ambitious and wonderful movie, and I applaud Warner Bros. for letting Jonze share this story to the hopeless romantics and movie-lovers all over the world.

"Her," like "Short Term 12" and "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," is a special movie.  It will make you laugh, and it will make you cry.  But most of all, it will make you fall in love with romance movies once again.  Being the hopeless romantic I am, I couldn't help but root for this relationship to prevail, despite many conflicts coming in their way in the second half.  Every performance in this movie is superb, particularly Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson.  Spike Jonze's script and direction feel raw, intimate, and incredibly real, so much so that everything in this movie could happen in some way, shape, or form in the near future.  Just like the many people around me who saw the film before myself, I have absolutely fallen under the spell of "Her," and I hope everyone else who sees it will be able to as well.


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Winter's Tale

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