News

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

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

Photo: YouTube

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 News

13 hours ago in Albemarle County, Charlottesville City, Local, Surrounding Counties, UVA

Winter Storm Warning Effective 9 p.m.

Snow Scene On An Interstate (sent by State Police) 012216

The National Weather Service has posted a winter storm warning that's effective at 9 p.m.

14 hours ago in Local, Surrounding Counties, UVA

Deadly Confrontation In Buckingham

Buckingham County Sheriff Logo

State Police are investigating a Saturday confrontation between a now-deceased 19-year-old and a Buckingham County deputy sheriff.

14 hours ago in Albemarle County, Charlottesville City, Local, Surrounding Counties, UVA

Woman Charged With Malicious Wounding

Updated
Police car lights (from clipart)

A 47-year-old woman faces a malicious wounding charge following a stabbing incident on Green Creek Road.

24 hours ago in Local, Local Sports, UVA Sports

UVA Men Lose Heart Breaker 63-62

Basketball (clipart)

The UVA men's basketball team suffers a gut-wrenching loss to Duke for the second year in a row.

1 day ago in Albemarle County, Charlottesville City, Local, Local Sports, Sports, Surrounding Counties, UVA, UVA Sports

UVA Lacrosse Loses Home Opener 11-4

VSabre for web~1240x800 copy

The UVA men's lacrosse team lost to the visiting Loyola Greyhounds 11-4 in the season-opener for both squads.