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Review of "HER"
By Jayne Waterford
Copyrighted © Jayne Waterford, 2014 Written 22nd January 2014 First published 22nd January 2014 Revised 23rd January 2014
REVIEW: "HER" by Jayne Waterford

As we enter Theodore's world we very gracefully find ourselves placed next to him at work as letter writer #612, where he writes personal letters for a company http://beautifullyhandwrittenletters.com/. It's an interesting irony that Theodore could be numbered like a character from an Orwellean 1984 and yet be so engaged on an emotional level. This is a world where expression of deep emotional appreciation has been outsourced. Perhaps feelings are that by which we have become enslaved. Text is read, writing is written verbally only. Everyone talks constantly into their devices. Experience is available at the turn of a head. Samantha, Theodore's operating system, god-love-her, sorts out Theodore's back-log and we're not that far into the future.

Pants for men are absurdly high waisted, as if evoking a 1940s fashion flash-back with flies suggestively long. Theodore and his friends, Amy (Amy Adams) and her husband, inhabit a world of like-minded and comfortably well-off corporate types who dress sensibly and aren't phased by the cost of things, like artificially intelligent operating systems. They are nerdy and are set apart, but not from anyone in our story. Their world is just so.

The film reunited Jonze with production designer K.K. Barrett, editor Eric Zumbrunnen and costume designer Casey Storm, who worked together on “WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE” (2009), “ADAPTATION.” (2002) and “BEING JOHN MALKOVICH” (1999).

Jonze was inspired by an initial buzz he felt when texting an artificial intelligence. Only in the real world it soon seemed unintelligent.

Joaquin Pheonix did a very funny job of representing one person dancing and partying in an intimate location with an invisible lover whom has no form at all. I was reminded of the energy he brought to Casey Affleck's "I'M STILL HERE" (2010) in his short-lived career as a rapper where with the collaboration of Affleck, he took the piss out of the world during a self-constructed hiatus. I so regret not writing that up at the time. No one else seemed to get that it was a joke. Indeed, in one moment during "HER" when Pheonix's character, Theodore Twombly, seems to be talking not to an operating system but to god I still detect the same, wry note of piss-taking.

I'd like to think that Scarlett Johansson's character Samantha is quite literally a disembodied consciousness however, this is not the case. A. her body is the housing of technolgy. B. she is constructed along the lines of of Theodore's responses to the questions: is that hesitance and do you get on with your mother? Honestly she's not a nice girl and demonstrates that someone, on the production line, built disloyalty into her way of being. Her fellow operating systems cheat on their owners. She, "personally," makes sexual breathing noises in conversation with Theodore that destablise him. She talks on and on about herself as if it made sense to be an egotist. Her world is all about her. Perhaps these are the programming paradigms that are set in motion by Theodore's initial responses when installing the operating system? Perhaps it's a manipulative comportment that will make Theodore spend more on OS2 as OS1 deserts everyone who purchased it? I'll never know.

But how do we come to entertain the idea she is a disembodied consciousness? It is threw the acting prowess of Joaquin Raphael (formerly Leaf) Pheonix. Pheonix spends a considerable amount of onscreen time evoking her presence by acting as if she's there, even in intimate romantic locations on his own, for our benefit. His dialogue slips up, sometimes postulating

that she is in an, "over there." But she is not only embodied in his face. Samantha is Scarlett Johansson and is therefore already in our consiousness.

Sex goddess and cutie-pie Scarlett Johansson does not require much imagination to be evoked. And so I suppose we are more likely to empathise with Theodore (Theo: god, dore: like adore, the one who adores god) as her being takes on omniscience.

There is also a theme of people in this world reinventing the wheel. Amy films someone sleeping and her dim-as-shit husband suggests that her subject do something. No mention of Warhol is made. It is the world from which history has been expunged? Perhaps wikipedia.org crashed? Indeed, he wrestles in love with love but no one thinks of Romeo. Everyone's too busy being content. Their world is Stepford-like. He may end up emotionally shagged but his life remains pleasant.

Spike Jonze's "HER" (2013) was fairly amusing, thoughtful and verbose. I was relieved when Theodore sat next to a woman and they kept quiet company. But that was the point. 5/10

Copyrighted ©: Jayne Waterford, 2014.

Spike Jonze's
"HER" (2013)
Director & Sole Screenwriter Spike Jonze
Producers Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze, Daniel Lupi and Vincent Landay
Stars Scarlett Johansson (Samantha - voice) Amy Adams (Amy), Olivia Wilde (Blind Date), Rooney Mara (Catherine), Chris Pratt, Joaquin Phoenix (Theodore), Portia Doubleday (Isabella)
Release Date 16th January 2014
Category Comedy
Running Time 126 minutes (2 hours, 6 minutes)
Rating MA15+
Origin USA
Awards OSCAR NOMINATIONS Best Picture Music - Original Score William Butler & Owen Pallett Music - Original Song "The Moon Song" Karen O & Spike
Jonze Production Design K.K. Barrett & Gene SerdenaWriting - Original Screenplay Spike Jonze GOLDEN GLOBE WINNER Best Screenplay - Motion Picture Spike Jonze
Coda No
Distributor Sony Pictures
Official Blurb "Written and directed by Spike Jonze, “Her” is set in Los Angeles, in the near future and follows Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a complex, soulful man who makes his living writing touching, personal letters for other people. Heartbroken after the end of a long relationship, he becomes intrigued with a new, advanced operating system, which promises to be an intuitive and unique entity in its own right. Upon initiating it, he is delighted to meet “Samantha,” a bright, female voice (Scarlett Johansson), who is insightful, sensitive and surprisingly funny. As her needs and desires grow in tandem with his own, their friendship deepens into an eventual love for each other. “Her” is an original love story that explores the evolving nature—and the risks—of intimacy in the modern world." - Sony Pictures PR
CAPTIONS: JOAQUIN PHOENIX as Theodore in the modern day love story “HER,” directed by Spike Jonze, a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
COPYRIGHT: Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
CAPTIONS: JOAQUIN PHOENIX as Theodore in the modern day love story “HER,” directed by Spike Jonze, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
PHOTO BY: Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
CAPTIONS: Director Spike Jonze on location for the modern day love story “HER,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
PHOTO BY: Photo by Sam Zhu
COPYRIGHT: (c) MMXIII Untitled Rick Howard Company LLC
CAPTIONS: JOAQUIN PHOENIX as Theodore in the modern day love story “HER,” directed by Spike Jonze, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
PHOTO BY: Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
COPYRIGHT: (c) MMXIII Untitled Rick Howard Company LLC