Joaquin Phoenix Cyber Lover – HER

Posted 9 years ago by myetvmedia

“Hello, I’m here,” declares Scarlett Johansson playing the romantic and sentient operating system Samantha in Spike Jonze fascinating new cyber romance, “Her”. Samantha is the latest OS for Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore Twombly, a depressed soon-to-be divorcé who can’t move beyond the hurt of his failed marriage. Programmed to perfectly match his personality, Samantha disarms Theodore, and the bond between the two soon grows beyond any limitations, either physical or ethical. And with her tour de force performance, there’s no denying that Johansson has most certainly arrived.

As a concept, “Her” is masterful satire, commenting on society’s love affair with technology. Jonze hits us very close to home; from the way we fawn over our latest iPhones to our marveling of Siri’s newest capabilities. And yet, despite its cyber wrapping, “Her” is a love story that’s both real and – most shockingly – relatable.

In ways that feel all too human, Samantha knows exactly when to laugh, when to coo, when to motivate and when to back off. By design, she’s the soul mate we all search for. Not even her lack of a physical existence is a hindrance, not for a generation that grew up chatting on MSN. In some ways, Samantha feels more real than the Facebook friends we occasionally stalk or the virtual flings we engage in with flirty text messages. Her actual presence isn’t required because she ‘feels’ present, in body and in spirit.

Much of this is thanks to the powerful performance of Scarlett Johansson, who rounds out an impressive year after strong performances in Joseph-Gordon Levitt’s “Don Jon” and Jonathan Glazer’s “Under The Skin“. Often discredited as little more than a sex symbol, Johansson proves her critics wrong by doing away with her, ahem, ‘assets’ in this voice-only performance. And what a voice it is. With every note, every nuance, and every raspy breath, Johansson taps into the film’s heart, filling it with warmth and humanity. Johansson’s Samantha is the soul of the movie, even though she has none herself.

And while it’s Johansson’s voice we hear, it’s Joaquin Phoenix who fills the screen, delivering one of his most relatable and accessible performances to date. Phoenix has made his name by playing strong men being vulnerable, but with the character of Theodore Twombly, that vulnerability becomes his strength, not a weakness. It’s his softer side that allows us to embrace the romance as genuine; this is no mere plot point, but a true and powerful love, one that any of us could find ourselves in. We see ourselves reflected in Phoenix’s flawed, romantic Twombly. His performance is both fearless and genuine.

So how does love between a person and his computer work? The same as any other kind of love, it seems. With this, Jonze has engineered the perfect romantic tale, giving Twombly and Samantha the same hurdles, the same peaks, and the same crushing lows as any real love affair could experience. And oh, are there crushing lows, but they are earned with equally wonderful butterfly-worthy highs. The couple’s romance seems no less powerful than any long-distance love, even though the wrapping is more than a little different. In stripping away the artifice and connecting to its true emotional core, Jonze crafts a masterful love story. Not bad for the director’s first-ever original screenplay.

“Her” is a zeitgeist movie: a generation ago, the very notion would feel too far-out to be relatable, while a generation from now, the tech will seem outdated. But for the here and now, “Her” feels almost prescient, as if it understands where we’re headed better than we do. And while it doesn’t necessarily paint a bright future, it does leave room for optimism. For as long as we can feel as richly as we do here, humanity is in good hands.

“Her” was chosen to close the 51st New York Film Festival (2013) in NYC by The Film Society of Lincoln Center where it was nominated for Best Film. Spike Jonze (“Where The Wild Things Are”, “Being John Malkovich”) was nominated for a best director Oscar in 2000 for Being John Malkovich, and has earned multiple awards and nominations as a both screenwriter and director. Her won the Florida Film Critics Circle Awards (FFCC) 2013 and the Sierra Award for Best Original Screenplay along with multiple international awards. Annapurna Pictures (Megan Ellison) and Warner Brothers are behind the film. Her’s star studded cast includes Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Portia Doubleday and Rooney Mara.


Nimy Leshinski



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