Saturday, 25 January 2014

Her (2013) - ★★★★★

Director: Spike Jonze
Writer: Spike Jonze
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde

Her is such a unique, magnificent film. I can't even begin to describe how much I adored this movie. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it even made me flail my arms with sheer joy! I loved this movie so much, that it has already made it onto my Top 50 Favourite Movies of All Time list. Spike Jonze crafted 'Her' in such an exquisitely beautiful way. From the gorgeous cinematography, to the outstanding score, to the beautiful performances, to the touching relationship between man and computer. I haven't felt this elated, or enthusiastic about a newly released film since the magical Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) came out. 'Her' had everything I love in a movie, and so much more. By far the Best Picture of the year!

Set in the not too distant future, Her tells the story of Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a man who has felt lonely for quite some time since his wife asked for a divorce. He purchases a new computer operating system (OS), which has artificial intelligence and intuition built into it. The OS (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) also has the ability to grow, learn, and feel. Theodore and his OS, who named herself Samantha, begin to develop feelings for each other. The border between what's artificial and what is reality prove to be a difficult hurdle to overcome, but they manage to find a beautiful way to connect with one another on a deeply personal level.

I don't know what came over me. The relationship between Theodore and Samantha just really got to me. I was so attached to them both that it got to the point where every single scene either made me explosively happy, deeply heart-broken, and feeling every emotion in between. Most of that has to do with some of the unreal dialogue that is exchanged between the two, which to me is as beautiful as anything I've ever heard.

"Are these feelings even real? Or are they just programming?"
"You feel real to me Samantha."

I think I've already established that the screenplay is by far my favourite out of any movie from 2013. It's just indescribably magnificent. What makes this movie every bit a masterpiece is the attention to detail in the cinematography and music. 'Her' managed to make me feel like I was actually in the future. I felt like a fly on the wall, looking at Theodore's life within such a crazy, beautiful world. I adored the set location's, the camera angles and techniques, and also the set production that created the sense of the future.

On top of all this perfection, was the soul-touching score by Arcade Fire. It has a technological, modern sound to it which suits the themes in this film. There are so many unique, spine-chillingly beautiful pieces throughout the movie. There was one scene that was filled with emotion between Theodore and Samantha, then the score started playing and enhanced the emotions by tenfold. I was so wrapped up in the music that I literally raised my arms and started saying "YES! YES! YES!" These technical aspects were every bit as elating to me as the screenplay and performances.

Joaquin Phoenix gives one of his greatest performances as Theodore. I couldn't imagine a better actor to play the part. I never would have thought he could be so... sensitive and loveable, you know? After seeing The Master (2012), it was hard to get that image of him out of my head. Now, out of all the performances in his distinguished career, my all-time favourite role he's ever played is Theodore. He was truly flawless in crafting the character, who I loved despite the emotional faults he possessed. I personally would have nominated Phoenix for an Oscar.

"We're only here briefly... and I, while I'm here, I want to allow myself... joy."

Amy Adams gave her best performance of 2013 as Amy, Theodore's close friend since college. She had some really fantastic scenes in this movie. I personally feel that it was a return to form for Adams, who stumbled a little bit with her shaky role in American Hustle (although most laud it as one of the best of the year). Adams just knows how to do pure, 100% natural emotion. That's what she's best at. She's a good character actor, but she's masterful when it comes to the truly human stuff. Here, she played a real person, and played it beautifully.

Even the very small supporting performances were brilliant. I'm a pretty big fan of Olivia Wilde, and it was nice to see her in such a highly acclaimed film, where she gives a damn fine display of dramatic acting. Hopefully this will lead to more serious roles for her. As for Rooney Mara... don't even get me started on her. The talent she possesses is inhuman. She effortlessly plays her roles, and just fully becomes her characters no matter how small her part is in the movie. Here, she played Theodore's ex-wife, and managed to shine into the depths of my memory even then. Wilde and Mara both didn't have much to do or say in the film, yet their perfectly acted small roles are a big example of why I'd call this a perfect film.

"The past is just a story we tell ourselves." - Samantha, "Her" (2013).

I honestly believe that Scarlett Johansson had the hardest part to play in the film. All she could do was offer her voicing talents, and express everything through that one form of communication. Her voice is so personable. It gave Samantha a whole new dimension and personality, and shed almost all doubt of the OS's feelings being completely artificial. Because of Johansson, and Spike Jonze's beautiful screenplay, I felt more connected to Samantha than I did with any other character from the year 2013. I wholeheartedly believe that this as one of Johansson's greatest roles in her career.

The last 15 minutes of the movie made me an emotional wreck. I truly connected to 'Her.' It's just one of those inexplicable occurrences, where a film is linked to your soul without you ever being able to articulate exactly why that is. If it were up to me, I'd give this film the following Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score. In my eyes, this movie is an absolute masterpiece.


  1. Good review Ben. I also loved Her very much. Production Design and Cinematography is magnificent, such a beautiful colors.

    It's easily one of the best movies of 2013.

    1. Thanks Nika, I'm glad you agree with me. Her is such a magnificently crafted film :)

  2. Very, very nice review. I'm pretty much alone on this one. I had a few issues with it that keep me from loving it as a whole. Phoenix was sensational though. But isn't he always?

    1. I'd love to know what issues you had with it. I agree with you about Phoenix though. I've yet to see a bad performance from him :)

  3. I have to agree with everything you said here, I finally got to see this last night and I think we had a very similar response to it. I wanted to watch it all over again right away.

    My love for ScarJo knows no bounds and this is her at her best, she deserves so much more attention for what she managed to do here. Great Review! :)