Posted by: greercn | February 19, 2014

Her

The future will have extremely bad fashion choices but terrific public transport. Men will have to wear trousers as high as Simon Cowell’s, even on the beach and women will dress the wrong side (from Mad Men) of the 1950s.

But everything will be beautifully lit and Los Angeles will look like an uncrowded Shanghai. Sections of “Her” were filmed in Shanghai.

Curtains are redundant and everyone lives in a magnificent apartment with views of LA or Shanghai. So far – apart from the clothing disasters – so cool.

Friends who have those products with the fruit on them tell me Siri is a friendly voice that helps them out. Knowing what happened to Adam and Eve, I have (so far) resisted the lure of the roundish logo stuff.

Spike Jonze takes the idea a little further and invests Samantha – an operating system voiced by Scarlett Johansson – with computer and very human abilities. Samantha is the operating system chosen by Theodore Twombley. Theodore is played by Joaquin Phoenix, who channels Michael Fassbender with added dollops of depression and loneliness.

He writes beautiful letters for lazy people, as a job. His marriage to Catherine (Rooney Mara) is over and he is resisting divorce. Flashbacks show how Theodore and Catherine were, in the good old days.

The premise is creepy but Phoenix and Jonze make it an alluring if offbeat romcom.

Note that nobody shortens their names. Theodore is never called “Ted” and Samantha isn’t “Sam”. The oddly formal tone and science fiction touches engage the viewer.

It all feels original and stylish, but I am not sure if there is a message here that will last. Mistrust technology? Relationships with your computer and phone are as meaningful as the real thing? Human relationships are difficult? Games online can feel very real? The future is a better place and a worse place?

It passed its two hour running time very quickly and the Stratford East Picturehouse audience all loved it.

That achingly hip Arcade Fire song in the soundtrack sounds like “Teenage Kicks” with a bit of portentous twiddling added. Maybe, for me, that’s the heart of the problem. Phoenix, Mara, Amy Adams, Chris Pratt, Olivia Wilde and Samantha Johansson’s voice are all terrific, but I probably needed it to be a bit weirder. Still, it will provide dinner party chatter for all. And a new generation will discover Alan Watts, for better or for worse.

The best thing about the future, apparently, is that the internet never fails.

This is my 400th post on this website. Thank you to all my readers.

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Responses

  1. Good review Greer. One of the most beautiful movies I saw last year, and definitely one of my favorites. Actually, my second favorite!

  2. Thank you! Beautiful Spike Jonze concepts linger with the heart.


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