Wow. I should just end the review with that one word. Wow. Director/Writer Spike Jonze has been flirting for years with the home run ball. He has a solid repertoire with Where the Wild Things Are and Being John Malkovich, to name two, but he has never hit it out of the park. Well, we can now say that he has. Her is a masterpiece. Easily one of the best films of 2013, Her takes a concept as (seemingly) ridiculous as a human being falling in love with an OS and makes it believable. Makes it real. Makes it grounded. It's a truly heartfelt story, with many unexpected turns throughout. Jonze does a great job avoiding the easy cliches that frequently occur in romantic movies. As a result this is going to be the extent of my thoughts on the story, because I don't want to spoil anything for you, since half of the fun is watching their relationship develop and mature in front of you. It's masterfully told, and, as I said, wonderfully grounded and believable. This is without a doubt the best date movie of the year, and right there with 2012's Perks of Being a Wallflower for best date movie of recent memory. In my humble opinion.
Time to talk about acting. A lot of people may be turned off from this movie because of Joaquin Phoenix. And rightfully so, since some of his past roles have been rather over the top and quirky. Well I'm here to say this is the most relatable role I have ever seen him play. His character and his falling in love with the OS is totally buyable, and this is thanks to him playing a very grounded character. He definitely sold me on this role. And his role is not easy. He has to fall in love with a voice. He has to maintain a relationship with a voice. He has to argue with a voice. He has to have sex with a voice. (Yes, this happens, but it is beautifully shot with a simple black screen while it occurs) And this is without seeing the fact that the voice is Scarlett Johansson. Who basically anyone would fall in love with let's be honest. Scarlett Johansson? Also phenomenal. She has to create a very real and human character with nothing but her voice, and she nails it. Honestly this movie was going to sink or float based on her performance alone, and she definitely kept it afloat. Incredible amounts of emotion from her voice while also not overacting is located throughout the movie, from her trying to get Phoenix out of bed to the arguments the two of them have. There's only a small supporting cast, primarily Amy Adams, Chris Pratt, and Rooney Mara, but they are also very human and believable characters. Once more, Adams puts in a great performance, one which is a complete 180 from that of American Hustle. Her character also has an OS, and has a very different experience than that of Phoenix's character. But again, I totally bought it. Also there are some surprising cameos in this, like Bill Hader, Brian Cox, Kristin Wiig, (she has a provocative and very brief part towards the beginning) and Olivia Wilde. Honestly the one who gets a little lost here is Rooney Mara, who, despite her incredible talent, was just kind of a side note, even though her character is a very prominent one.
So there are so many other things that are beautiful in this movie. The directing, editing, cinematography, and score particularly. But there's too much to cram into a short review. Seriously, just go see this. Oh and I should bring up the fact that the movie takes its premise very seriously. Yes it's a ridiculous concept, one which tech nerds will love to analyze, but it is definitely told in a grounded and convincing manner. As in I definitely bought the development of the OS. To the point that I do not feel the need to overanalyze her by the end. So don't let this hold you back from seeing it. Everyone should see this. Really I had one simple complaint. It's a 126 minute romantic comedy/drama. While this is not a bad thing, this does mean that an element or two may be introduced that may not make a huge amount of sense. Towards the end of the second act, a surrogate human being is introduced for the OS to inhibit. While Phoenix responds to her in the logical way, her whole character was unnecessary, and really didn't do anything for the story besides have me briefly overanalyze the logic behind it. But Phoenix quickly moved on. And so did I. A trivial complaint. In short, go see this movie. Now.
The Verdict: one of the best movies of 2013, Her masterfully blends comedy, drama, and romance into an original and rather unexplored idea, one which will resonate with you for quite some time, as it's concept is not really all that ridiculous.
The Recommendation: for the love of God, go see it. It's the perfect date movie. But there's something here for everyone. And try to see it in a theater because it is beautifully shot.
The Verdict: 10/10 Perfect
Oscar Talk: I don't know. I'll say score, director, cinematography, and original screenplay. SUCH A GOOD YEAR FOR MOVIES this one honestly may not have enough buzz around it to generate an Oscar push. Hopefully I'm wrong.