her – Review

The world is filled with the predictable.  Film trailers routinely show everything about a film.  The argument could be made whether that’s because the trailer gives away too much or whether there just isn’t much to the film.  Most often the case is both.  Many films can even be surmised just by looking at the film’s posters.  This is not the case with Her.  It’s posters merely show you the film stars Joaquin Phoenix and most of the early trailers leave you without much more than that.

Her was written and directed by Spike Jonze and includes a cast of Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, and Olivia Wilde, but really centers on Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson.  Set in what is presumed to be the near future, Phoenix plays the role of Theodore Twombly, a pretty lonely though otherwise regular guy.  He’s dealt with his share of heartache and is now locked into his fairly menial routine of going to work during the day and spending the evenings by himself.

One day as he is walking along his normal route he sees an advertisement for a new operating system which boasts an artificial intelligence.  Up until that point, people have been using pretty rudimentary “personal assistant” software which doesn’t seem too far off from what’s available now.  This new AI based operating system promises much more.  Twombly picks up a copy, takes it home, installs it, and so begins the adventure.

Joaquin Phoenix delivers the performance of a lifetime.  Much of the film consists of extended scenes focused exclusively on him, by himself. He portrays a relatable man who you can read so much from just in his expressions and body language.  Words convey meaning but Phoenix plays his role so well that the words he speaks are secondary to everything else he conveys.  He is the sole, undeniable star, but the supporting cast including Johansson perform very admirably as well.

The whole premise of the film opens up endless ideas and questions.  As the film continued on, it became easy to think that it would make a great television series because there really is so many places you can take the ideas beyond a two hour film.  However, with a film’s run-time limitations comes conclusiveness and power.

It’s easy to find internet trolls bark about how the idea of a man falling in love with a software program is not a novel idea.  That is correct, but that has never been portrayed even close to as well as it is in this film, and that concept only touches at the very surface of what this film is about.

Without giving it away, a significant theme in the film is actually something that has been quite popular in other, often more action-oriented science fiction productions.  This film takes the same idea but portrays a radically different, yet equally plausible outcome.

Her combines the pinnacle of human performance with ideas that are intriguing enough to continue to pull at your mind long after the film is over.  For that, it is wonderful.



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