When I see a movie in theaters, I will write the five things you need to know about it.
5 Things You Need to Know About…
- Her, a near future depiction of a world where the OS on our computing devices is far from artificial and much more intelligent (the incredible episode, “Be Right Back,” from the UK’s transcendent anthology television series, Black Mirror, goes one step further), is at once a haunting and depressing reality and at the same time a stunningly provocative and beautiful commentary on the increasingly blurred lines of our connectivity. The technology may be a few steps ahead of today (Siri is still getting her feet wet as a reliable assistant), but the emotional understanding could not be more current.
- The “Him” in Her is played with a delicate accessibility that has been vacant in the more recent career of the always great Joaquin Phoenix. The result is immediate buy-in. This allows his relationship with “Her” to come alive in reality and not in fantasy (Can you imagine Phoenix’s character from The Master or that weird, bearded rapper he played in real life interacting honestly with an OS? Nope.). “Her” is performed by Scarlett Johannson in what may be the most memorable vocal acting performance since Robin Williams’ genie in Aladdin. Ms. Johannson’s seductive tones and “I just woke up on a weekend morning” rasp create an immediate allure. Her chemistry with Phoenix is undeniable. They are as genuine and honest as both characters believe the relationship to be. Subsequently, the audience does not for a moment question the veracity of their feelings and openly accepts the possibility of this technological advance. (One additional note: Samantha Morton originally portrayed Samantha. She was on set, in the room, responding live and Joaquin was responding to her. When Spike Jonze’s team went to record the dialogue in the studio, it just wasn’t working, so Johannson was brought on as replacement. To know that Johannson’s performance was responding to only footage and tape of Joaquin’s performance is even more impressive.)
- Well played, production team of Her. The production design and costumes of Her create a near future of mustaches, high wasted pants, and retro colors that make sense and speak to realistic fashion trends. The technology design has a simplicity and artfulness that is rooted in the already established movements in the field. The musical score adds a lush color to the already transformative visual mosaic. Its melancholic beauty is tone affirming,
- Her, by a wide margin, features my favorite Amy Adams performance of the year (Take that Man of Steel and American Hustle).
- Her is a film set in the future that has both currency today and will have continued resonance as it ages. Although very much a byproduct of a soon to be now, its timeless relationship truths are as universal as its title.