News

REVIEW: Is ‘Her’ love in the modern world?

REVIEW: Is ‘Her’ love in the modern world?

This film image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Joaquin Phoenix in a scene from "Her." Photo: Associated Press/Warner Bros. Pictures

Genre:  Comedy, Drama, Romance | Run Time: 126 min | Rated: R
Director: Spike Jonze | Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams

By: George Wolf

Is Spike Jonze the most imaginative American filmmaker working today?

Yes. Need proof?

This is the guy who turned the beloved, 10-sentence children’s book Where the Wild Things Are into the most heartbreaking and wondrous film of 2009. The guy who could make the act of adapting existing work into the most original film of 2002 (Adaptation).

Heck, it’s the man who made his directorial debut telling the tale of a filing clerk who sells tickets into John Malkovich’s head. And the quality of his output has only improved, taking on a depth and beauty since he began writing his projects as well.

With Her, the first film Jonze has written entirely on his own, he’s crafted the year’s most poignant love story.

It sounds like the lead-in to a joke: A man falls in love with his computer operating system. Who, besides Jonze, could take a premise like and turn it into a masterful image of our times?

Joaquin Phoenix plays the lonely and emotionally bruised Theodore, in the not-too-distant-future Los Angeles. Still reeling from a break up, Theodore shies away from traditional intimacy, but finds himself attracted to the newest update in operating systems: the OS that evolves to meet every need.

Credit Jonze for sidestepping every imaginable cliché – and there are plenty – and instead exploring society’s current trajectory with surprising tenderness, perhaps even optimism. Yes, he notes the superficiality of relationships in the technological age, and the tendency toward isolation. But it’s not like he believes the machines are going to rise up and enslave us.

Not that he exactly rules that out.

What he does instead is almost magical. He introduces us to the very picture of humanity in Samantha, the operating system. Scarlett Johansson voices the character, and enough cannot be said of her performance. It’s easy to undervalue voice talent, but Johansson shows what can be done with nothing else to rely on – no facial expressions, no setting, no gestures. Her performance is an absolute wonder.

Likewise, Phoenix is magnificent, falling in love on screen with no physical being to perform against. His work is vulnerable and touching enough to take your breath.

A sparkling supporting group, including Amy Adams, Olivia Wilde, a very funny Chris Pratt, fills out the cast, each making the utmost of the environment Jonze has created.

The film looks and feels amazing, with every detail of set design and script enhancing and deepening the impact of the love story. It’s a beautiful, imaginative, relevant image of love in the modern world.

Verdict-4-5-Stars

Read more movie reviews at MaddWolf.com.

Latest Headlines

in Sports

Florida State’s Winston benched half a game

jameis

Heisman Trophy-winning QB Jameis Winston will be punished after shouting sexually-obscene comments in the student union.

in Sports

NFL back on the road with extra game in London

nfl

The NFL roadshow rolls into London again next week for the first of three games designed to build its international fan base.

in Entertainment, Sports

‘NBA 2K15′ adds 3D face mapping for latest game

nba

"NBA 2K15" is angling for a slam dunk with an innovative new feature that allows players to put their game faces on.

in Music

Motley Crue’s final gig to be at Whisky a Go Go

vinceneil

Vince Neil has let slip plans for the band's final shows, revealing they will return to the site of their first gigs.

in Sports

Warner, Seau among 113 Hall nominees

kurtwarner

There are 99 players and 14 coaches nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2015.