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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Her 2013 * * * 1/2 Stars

HerDirector: Spike Jonze
Year: 2013
Rated R
Rating: * * * 1/2 Stars (Click on rating link to check out Cole's on site review)
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara

Written by Cole Pollyea

It's important to have insightful, fearless, innovative, and intelligent filmmakers like Spike Jonze in today's cinematic industry. Many of our modernistic ways haven't yet been put into perspective on film, but director Jonze does just that and more in his 2014 Best Picture nominee, Her.

Her confidently throws us into the life of Theodore Twombly, a lonely man who works at a company that composes personal letters for people that can't or won't. He spends his nights restless and empty, and his days stuck in reality. This all changes when he becomes infatuated with the newest, highly futuristic OS1, a technology that communicates like a human, and starts to—theoretically—become one.

Theodore is flawlessly executed by Joaquin Phoenix, who fits the role like a glove. His facial expressions, gestures, and the way by which he delivers dialogue is quiet, genuine, heartfelt, and incredibly powerful. There are pivotal scenes in the movie that couldn't have been expressed through any other actor. It feels like Jonze is the painter and Phoenix is the brush; these two were meant to work together to bring this movie to life, and the result is something to marvel at.

Amy Adams, in her third movie of the year, has proven that any director who dare cast her is going to get his/her money's worth. She has the admirable ability to embody any given role in the wide spectrum that is film. Earlier this year, she played Lois Lane in Man of Steel with exuberance. Later on, she took on the job of American Hustle—which I believe she is going to receive an Academy Award for—and here, she plays Amy, a documentary filmmaker whose relationship with Theodore isn't really divulged and made important until the last half hour or so of the movie comes around. This last portion of the movie is perhaps the most tender; it's about then when the writing, performances, cinematography, and score all come together like members of an ensemble to bring home the point that the filmmaker was attempting to make. It's at this point in the film that Adams kicks into high gear, and creates a character whose self-realization is both touching and awing. In short, I know for certain that her role in Her didn't consume as much screen time as her role in American Hustle did. I can't say for certain, though, for which performance I'd applaud the talented Ms. Adams for more.

There's a level of appreciation that has to be had for a writer who incorporates fashion statements from the past to add a layer of intelligence to a futuristic tale. Part of the reason why this film works so well is because of what we, the audience, see on-screen. Considering that he wears high-waisted trousers and collarless shirts, Joaquin Phoenix looks as comfortable as can be on screen in front of the beautiful filming site of Los Angeles. Moreover, the gracefulness of the intimate camerawork benefits every other artistic characteristic of this movie (including the musical score). These aspects are a lot to take in at once. But as one will discover, this movie appeals to all senses, and it's obvious that Jonze has a good grasp on, and awareness of, all of this. It's an atmospheric movie, and I can honestly say that there were few times when the filmmaker didn't have the grip that he should have had on me.

With all of that being said, it's important to put on the table that I don't believe Her is going to win Best Picture. It's not the Academy's type of film; it's a precocious, sensitive satire that doesn't beg for attention. It's not the meaty, historically rich film that 12 Years A Slave is. However, this is something that I, as a film lover and maturing human being, am going to revisit as the years go by, as it is a movie of incredible wisdom that offers insight into human emotion and capability. It is the most exquisite, beautiful motion picture that has come along in a long time.

Written by Cole Pollyea

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