Spike Jonze tells an artful story of love and technology

BY GRAHAM HARTLAUB —

Would you date Siri? Well, apparently, Joaquin Phoenix would.

Her is a story about a lonely young man, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), who lives in the not-so-distant future. A future in which people apparently never write their own letters, but instead play holographic video games with foul-mouthed alien children and date their artificial-intelligence operating system. Anyway, Theodore comes across a new, state-of-the-art operating system and installs it into not only his computer and his house, but his life. Through the OS system, he meets Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson in the film, an artificially intelligent being, much like Siri, who becomes very involved in Theodore’s work, physical and social life.

I remember seeing the trailer for this movie and it immediately got my intention. Not only was the plot and the design of the film fun, imaginative and unique, but the director, Spike Jonze, has a style that I can never get enough of. He has this appeal and courage to dive into the unknown when it comes to plots and he’s not afraid to push the boundaries.

Although I try to avoid having this happen to me, I was pumped. I was already hooked just by the trailer, and it felt dangerous.

Was it worth the hype? Yes!

I loved this movie from beginning to end. From the first opening shots, I knew that I was in for one heck of a ride.

Now, anyone who has seen the trailer or has read the synopsis may ask the same question: how on earth could this relationship between this man and his OS system possibly work and thrive?

I knew as soon as I saw the trailer that Spike Jonze would find a way to make it work, because why would he do it otherwise? A director would have to be very courageous and confident if they would tackle this kind of subject. I am very happy to say that it indeed was worth the effort. Within the first five minutes of knowing Samantha and finding out how she works and communicates with Theodore, I didn’t see her as a computer, but a real person. The chemistry that grows between the two characters is a lot more real than most romantic comedy couples lately.

The scenes where Theodore explains why he loves her so much are really touching. I won’t spoil anything, but it’s truly amazing and heartfelt. The way that he cares for her is very remarkable.

Of course, once again, Spike Jonze has directed and created a world full of wonderful and daringly bizarre aspects. The future he creates is a lot more down-to-earth and different from most futures depicted in most films and adds a little more density, given the possibility that this future might be arriving to our world extremely soon. I can’t wait for Jonze’s next piece of absolute art.

As I said with the chemistry revealed between the two main leads, the writing is fantastic. It’s smart, funny, daring and, best of all, honest. It is such a real story and the screenplay portrays such a real presence even though the setting is kind-of-but-not-so different.

Let us look at the cast here, for a second. You’ve got Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Chris Pratt, Rooney Mara and Olivia Wilde acting in this movie. Of course the acting is going to be phenomenal! These actors really bring their characters to life in the best way possible and make them seem like such real people. No doubt Phoenix is going to be nominated for an Academy Award, he’s so daunting and hypnotizing as an actor.

Once again, no spoilers, but there are a few awkward scenes here and there. To some people, including me, this maybe a good thing, watching a film that has the audacity and bravery to attempt a subject like this. To others it may be extremely embarrassing and they may feel very weird sitting in the theater, so if you are picky about that, steer clear from seeing this with a parent, friend or relative.

The film does stretch out a little bit when it comes to runtime. The movie is 126 minutes long and it does lag on for a little bit in the beginning of its third act, but in the end, you will find yourself not wanting this film to end.

Her is a fantastic movie that deserves all of the best of praises. Smart, humorous, touching and surprisingly real and haunting in some ways, it is a film that one must see if one needs a dose of originality, bravery and overall joy.

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