Thursday, January 23, 2014


Her is the story of a lonely man who purchases a new operating system with artificial intelligence and proceeds to have a romantic relationship with the OS. Myself and other patrons frequently were moved to say out loud, this is weird. There is something to be said for what a challenge it must have been for Joaquin Phoenix to act alone as his character Theodore interacts with only the voice of Scarlett Johansson. Amy Adams gives a strong performance as she does in anything she appears in. Olivia Wilde and Rooney Mara also make solid performances of their supporting roles. Chris Pratt is a comic bright spot as Theodore's coworker.
Some noticeable costuming choices were made. Joaquin Phoenix is almost always seen wearing a bright orange. The men very obviously all wear high waisted wool pants for no explicable or symbolic reason. Amy Adam's character has unkempt hair and dresses very plainly. These clearly intentional choices do not have any clear purpose or association with the characters.

It is understandable from an industry perspective why the Academy nominated Spike Jonze's original screenplay. It is a unique idea and a probable look at the near future technologically speaking. However, it is not very well written. The movie is full of stereotypical male and female interactions. It is quite emotionally manipulative and several characters make big philosophical proclamations that do not ring true. It is an interesting idea to contemplate. For a moment, not two hours. Perhaps because I came of age during the Terminator era, artificial intelligence evolving seems more like impending doom than a possible relationship. The movie does paint a scary picture of personal relationships that texting and social media could devolve human interaction into. The guy who is having a relationship with his computer has the career of writing other people's personal letters. Putting pen to paper is a dying art now and it is another odd piece that does not quite fit. To think that people would pay to have someone write letters to their spouses and children for them is so empty. It is another way that interpersonal relationships are portrayed as manufactured in the movie. As strange and unlikely as the situations seem, there seems to be a therapeutic aspect to the character's interactions with their OSs.

The film's Best Picture nomination seems unwarranted. While not my new favorite movie, Her is certainly better than the movie Joaquin Phoenix was nominated for last year, The Master. That was a truly terrible movie and I am happy to report I could not even remember the name of it without consulting imdb. The other nominations the film received are for score, original song and production design. These acknowledgements seem more substantiated.

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