Review: HER (2013) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Friday, 17 January 2014

Review: HER (2013)

Review: HER (2013)
Smart, funny and poignant, HER is a fascinating cinematic experience about modern love in the cyber-obsessed era.

From his impressive feature debut in 1999's BEING JOHN MALKOVICH to 2009's WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, director Spike Jonze always has his way to craft one-of-a-kind cinematic experience. In his long-awaited follow-up since WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, Spike Jonze excels again in HER -- a unique look of love between the man and modern technology. 


Set in the not-so-distant future, the movie revolves around Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), who makes his living penning "handwritten personal letters" given by the clients of the company he works for, at which he's very good with words. Despite his successful profession, his personal life is a depressing mess. His childhood sweetheart, Catherine (Rooney Mara) has recently filed a divorce but Theodore is still reluctant to sign the papers. Things change when he purchases a state-of-the-art computer operating system called "OS1". After customising his needs, an A.I. by the name of Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) is created. Despite being a computer system, Samantha is a fast learner and communicates well with Theodore until one day, both of them unexpectedly fall in love for each other.

Likewise, Spike Jonze's creative visual sense is put into great use in HER. With the help of Hoyte Van Hoytema's dreamy cinematography to KK Barrett's impeccable production design, everything here is simply enticing to the eyes. But it was Jonze's first original screenplay that really struck a chord. Despite his unusual concept about "a man falling in love with computer software", the movie is hardly silly at all. In fact, the concept is genuinely heartfelt and emotionally relevant that asks you the all-important question: Is true love possible regardless whether it's a human being or an artificial intelligence?

Of course, no movie with such outlandish premise would be believable if not for its strong cast. Joaquin Phoenix delivers an exceptionally soulful performance as the lonely Theodore -- a role which is no doubt one of his finest roles to date. Equally captivating is Scarlett Johansson whose trademark husky voice is put into remarkable use as Samantha. It's a very challenging role nonetheless since she has to rely solely on her vocal acting to convince us that she is not much different than an ordinary human being -- but she succeeds pretty well. Her chemistry with Joaquin Phoenix is simply outstanding. The supporting actors, especially Amy Adams (who plays Theodore's best friend), Olivia Wilde (who plays Theodore's blind date) and Rooney Mara round out the magnificent cast here.

The odd but intimate moment where Surrogate Date Isabella (Portia Doubleday) appears as a human stand-in for Samantha to perform a lovemaking scene with Theodore.
Despite the clever structure of its unique love story, there are times the movie feels out of place with Jonze's penchant of overwhelms his story with too many unnecessary profanities.

While hardly perfect, HER remains an intriguing movie to check out for. After all, how often you get to watch such unconventional love story as unique as HER?

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