Monday, 17 March 2014

Her Review


Criticisms have come at Her for being a relevant film rather than a timeless one, capturing a moment of an odd technology obsession.Videodrome may have been a relevant film for the time but it transfers to modern society. Her shares characteristics of Videodromebecause its relevancy should remain for at least this generation but it will probably extend into future technological advancements.Her‘s story hardly feels too farfetched, it doesn’t stretch further than reality and its natural progression. Spike Jonze has made a gorgeous film with a magnificent use of colour throughout, using the beautiful red of the poster in costume design, set design and lighting. It may be a future that is undesirable but Jonze hardly makes it overtly cynical or upsetting – a light critique instead.
It opens with Robert (Joaquin Phoenix) saying a beautiful, anniversary related monologue but it’s for someone else. His job is to write letters for people which may seem strange but it’s barely any different from a card or the new personalised cards of Moonpig and Funky Pigeon. He makes the interactions between them – when there’s distance – beautiful, heartfelt and intimate and even has a huge hand in a pet name for one of his client’s wife. If you’ve seen the trailer then you know that’s not it. Joaquin Phoenix falls for a technological creation named OS1 and technology has been advanced so much that they’ve become sentient and self-aware; they can feel, think, grow and evolve naturally without a programmer tinkering to better them. Robert falls for Samantha, his sentient operating system, a sexy Siri if you like. Obviously it’s an abnormal thing but the near future created shows it quite common to talk to your phone often so turning into a real relationship is only one small step further.
Red is such a prominent colour of the film but it’s filled used well to highlight themes or moments, it even highlights the presence of Samantha. Often there is beautiful cinematography coming from the golden sun that is more idyllic than the real world ever seems. Even in cold weather, the sun has a much more effective warming touch. The way the camera switches between sleek cinematography and a visceral shooting style is never distracting because it’s handled professionally. Jonze can handle the transition much better than directors who are far too heavy handed with their approach, not trying to keep a visual consistency. In addition to the visuals, Spike Jonze even built a hologram game that isn’t far from happening with the outrageous abuse that can be flung in multiplayer games online.
Performances are spectacular in the film with Joaquin Phoenix obviously being fantastic and it’s a much more playful role than we’ve seen for a while. It is very comedic, heartfelt and often romantic approach to a character than he has previously played. Amy Adams and Rooney Mara are both great in their minor roles but their problem is the fact that they are so minor, it would be nice to see them for a bit longer, especially the latter. Rooney Mara’s character is rarely given more than a montage and a scene, it’s a shame because she clearly put effort into performing her character. Chris Pratt is great in his tiny role and provides enough normality and comedy to aid the film in its complicated tonal shifts. A great moustache too. The best performance though goes to Scarlett Johansson who is only a voice but is one of the best female performances, it could have easily been Oscar nominated. Her voice provides depth to her frustrations, her intelligence, her complexities, her romance. You can feel her love as well as the chemistry which rivals many films who have two physical leads. Honestly, it felt like people were perhaps exaggerating her performance and shining too much light to maybe seem original or to be hipster – for lack of a better word – but her entire performance is captivating and fantastic, deserving of all the attention and praise.
Romance films have rarely been more romantic. Although it’s easy to be perplexed by the nature of falling for someone without a physical body, it’s more genuine of a love if you aren’t blinded by the superficiality of looks. It can be easy to raise an eyebrow and laugh off the love but to do that is to be close-minded and it is much better to be open and receptive to the emotions, the romance and the love of HerHer is a visually stunning film that has been carefully designed; the sets, colours, costumes, props and so on all are there to promote the feeling of love with the beautiful hue of red used. Everything is beautiful, including the relationships, it could have easily made a cynical HAL-9000 creation but the best part of the work comes from taking it away from the cynicism, to the romanticism instead. Her may be relevant but that doesn’t stop it from being a fantastic creation which uses all of cinema’s magical elements to combine and make something a tad special, different and full on interesting. Her connects you to it.
★★★★½