“Sometimes I think I have felt everything I’m ever gonna feel. And from here on out, I’m not gonna feel anything new. Just lesser versions of what I’ve already felt.”
My personal favorite writer, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, has a way of capturing abundance of emotions through words in a heartfelt delicacy like no one else ever did. I used to think that Sáenz’ voice would took the like of Terence Malick to be able to captured his voice and spirit throughly. But after seeing Spike Jonze’s Her, which is the director first venture as a writer/director, i believe he’d be able to do it just as well. Perhaps he’ll even bring a little more youthfulness to it.
Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) works custom-writing handwritten letters (yet crafted on computers), he live alone, leaving a crumbling marriage and seek comfort from occasional phone sex with random strangers. Then a new artificial intelligence OS1 are available to purchase guarantee ready to met the owner’s every whim and customizable to match their desire. It was not just an operating system, it’s a consciousness, supposedly intuitive, understand, and know the owner. Not only assisting Theodore doing his work, the OS become a companion for him, and soon enough he finds comfort, companionship, and a romantic attachment towards his OS, Samantha (Scarlett Johansson).
The first thing that came to mind as soon as i finished watching Her was how it reminds me of UK miniseries Black Mirror by Charles Brooker. Although Her is the one with hipsterific, rom-drama-com feel to it, instead of emphasizing on techno paranoia side of stuff (even the OS1 commercial reminds me of their promotional video). This sadly rob one of the strength of this film as something that’s been-there-done-that moment for me.
Aside from the futuristic interfaces, the overall look of the film made me think of something out of 60s or 70s retro, maybe it was the mustache, maybe it was the warm colors of the picture (superbly crafted by Van Hoytema who decidedly avoid having too many cooler tones in the film). The future in Her leans toward a utopia, although it is not clearly stated. The people of the film seemed to thrive on organic and perhaps greener living. What made me realize that this is not the past but the future is the design of the costume for the film. Not only it is a refreshing take of what futuristic wardrobe would look like (can not get further away from the cool tones and metallic and chromes). Casey Storm, one of Jonze’s own frequent collaborator, smartly remove denim, suits and ties from the closets of these dwellers of future giving the viewers (at least me) that there’s something amiss, and removed from familiar convention. I need to point out that van Hoytema and Jonze manage to give similar poetic visual similar yet still uniquely different to Emmanel Lubezki and Terrence Malick style that so many other film have attempted yet failed to copy.
When stripped down to it’s core the story of the film is something that we have seen hundreds of time before. As what Bret Easton-Ellis would crassly put it: HER is essentially a hazy, earnest prostitute/john movie the one scene that I missed was when Joaquin buys OS on his credit card. For me there’s something conventional about Her. Especially towards the end where Theo having problems with Samantha that just reminds me of the mythology of Galatea. I guess i never really understand Theo. I feel that his character never really developed and learn from the heartbreaks of his past. Just like his ex wife Catherine (Rooney Mara) said to him how Theo kept expecting for the person he’s with to change to his own benefit.
What sold me on the film, albeit all the problem i’m struggling with, is Scarlett Johanson voice work as the voice of OS1 ‘Samantha’ become one of the best feat from the film. Jonze actually redid the voice of Samantha (originally it was voiced by actress Samantha Morton), which is a monumental decision to make as i think the voice of the OS1 is what could make or break this film. Both Amy Adams and Rooney Mara were great in their respective role. Amy Adams, fresh-faced look goes with the natural, conversational, dialogue between her and Theo. I found that i’m more captivated with her role as Amy than what she did in Hustle. Rooney Mara is such a scene-stealer here, wonderful in her role, in both flashback as well as in the present within such a short screen time.
In a lot of ways Her satirize how people interacts with and through interfaces and devices. It should hit closer to heart for those who can not live without the aid of technology and found comfort in their solitude within the virtual universe. Theo represent an individual who is afraid in facing differences and things that didn’t go accordingly to his whim, not an egoistical representation, but a more insecure and humane. Spike Jonze golden globe-winning screenplay is beautiful and poetic. Filled with lyrical phrases and quotable words. Her elegantly deliver a conventional story in a sensitive and human ways that made it become universally appealing. It should be very relatable to the people of now.
Oh and the film have such a great, moody soundtrack too (which i desperately love)! Btw, oh hey, marketing people, this poster is just tasteless.
GENRE Romance, Drama, Comedy, Science Fiction
DIRECTOR Spike Jonze | PRODUCER Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze, Vincent Landay | WRITER Spike Jonze | MUSIC Arcade Fire | CINEMATOGRAPHER Hoyte van Hoytema | EDITOR Eric Zumbrunnen, Jeff Buchanan | STUDIO Annapurna Pictures | DISTRIBUTOR Warner Bros. Pictures | COUNTRY United States | RUNNING TIME 125 minutes | BUDGET $18 Million | RATING R for language, sexual content and brief graphic nudity | RELEASE October 13, 2013 (NYFF), December 18, 2013
STARRING Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, Scarlett Johansson, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Matt Letscher, Portia Doubleday
DID YOU KNOW? The orange shirt that Joaquin Phoenix wore on the poster actually belong to the costume designer, Casey Storm. Not only Storm is now one of the nominee for Excellence in Costume Design for Contemporary Film award, his work became an inspiration for clothing company Opening Ceremony to launch a fashion collection. The collection adapted the film iconic look such as the no-collar shirt, double-layered tops, retro high-waisted pants, and the signature pin-on-pockets, like Theodore himself wore on the film. The brand previously featured another film inspired collection based on Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers.