January 19, 2014


It’d be easy to describe Spike Jonze’s new film, Her, in snarky or silly fashion: “Well, it’s about a lonely schlub who falls madly in love with a virtual woman.” If you immediately think of that obscure 1984 movie called Electric Dreams (or get visions of Philip J. Fry smooching a virtual Lucy Liu), then you’re the sort of sci-fi geek I respect — but let’s get all ideas of novelty and “gimmickry” out of the way right now. Yes, the fascinating and frequently sublime Her is about a man who falls in love with an artificial intelligence inside a computer's operating system, but once you get past the film’s simplest ideas, it quickly blossoms into a weird, warm, and very satisfying statement about the nature of love; how it works, why we need it, and most importantly, what it does to us.

Spike Jonze tends to makes strange films, and that's why I've always liked him. Whether they’re brilliant or absurd is up to the individual viewer, but after features like Being John Malkovich, Adaptation., and Where the Wild Things Are, it becomes hard to ignore, and harder to not like this refreshingly “anti-formula” filmmaker.  I doubt I’ll ever get tired of discovering and rediscovering his movies. And this new one is simply excellent, it raises a host of questions about how we interact with technology and each other, Her is an elegantly constructed piece that seamlessly interweaves drama, design and dialogue.

Supported by one of the most open, honest, and oddly satisfying screenplays in perhaps a decade, at its core, Her is, indeed, about a nice anonymous nobody called Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) who purchases a super-advanced computer operating system that is powered by a self-aware — and perpetually evolving — operating system with a female voice. (Theodore is no idiot; he chooses the voice that sounds like Scarlett Johansson.) And then Theodore gradually proceeds to fall madly in love with “Samantha.”

In the hands of less inspired writer/directors, a concept like this would hit the screen like Short Circuit, the aforementioned Electric Dreams, or any other sci-fi film in which a man falls in love with a robot, and vice versa. But it’s that reversal — that the “virtual” woman also falls madly in love with a human being — that gives Her such a strange poignancy and off-kilter charm. Buried not too deep beneath a sci-fi / rom-com concept is a wonderfully insightful story about how love begins, how it blossoms, and how it manages to blow itself out. Making “Samantha” a non-corporeal “concept” of a woman is a brilliant conceit. Theodore doesn’t want to create a perfect woman, but technology has allowed him to create a woman who is perfect for him. Suffice to say that romantics of both genders will find much to appreciate in Jonze’s poetically meloncholic, low-key, endlessly fascinating screenplay.

Her is also a non-stop buffet of delights for film fanatics; Joaquin Phoenix is simply brilliant as he goes from slightly off-putting to entirely lovable over the course of the film; Ms. Johansson brings an essential sense of warmth and vibrancy to “Samantha” while using only her voice; the supporting cast does its job remarkably well (particularly Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, and Olivia Wilde); and the “feel” of the film is that of slightly advanced sci-fi mixed with a sardonic tone that never goes for the mean joke or obvious answer.
I could dedicate additional paragraphs to Owen Pallett’s score or the quietly dazzling cinematography of Hoyte van Hoytema (who's work I first notice in the striking visuals of Let The Right One In), and I could note how unexpectedly funny and quietly honest this film is, or comment on how Jonze seems to get more confident and accomplished with each successive film, but I think the point is clear...

Her is a very smart, philosophical, and touching movie, and I feel like I’m a slightly better person for having seen it. Not sure you can give a film a nicer compliment than that.


Teknologi Informasi Selular said...

I love movie too, but no enough budged too buy tickets

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with your assessment of the movie more. The performances were truly amazing. I'd love to know how the scenes between Theodore and Samantha were filmed. Was Scarlett talking to Joaquin through that ear piece, was she in the room or was it Spike Jonze reading the lines to him? I could have watched it again as soon as it was over.