October 12, 2013

NYFF13'- HER Review: "I've never loved anyone the way I loved you"

When I first read the plot for Spike Jonze’s HER I was immediately turned off. I have always been a fan of Jonze and his originality has a filmmaker. But come on, how can you make a story about a guy falling in love with his computer interesting and not creepy or pathetic?

HER is the story of a lonely guy named Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), who is assigned a home operating system called OS1. The OS1, voiced by Scarltett Johansson, is named Samantha, and she and Theodore begins this world wind, unconventional, romantic relationship. When I walked into the press screening today, I had no idea that I would love this movie as much as I did. The film even received bug reactions from the usually reserved press, which I found very telling. There is one scene in particular involving phone sex and a cat, which will be embedded in my mind for a long time (trust me, it's hilarious.) Besides, the comedy, the film is also undeniably sweet and sentimental. Like you're floating on a cloud for a good portion of the film (maybe it's the coffeehouse soundtrack that puts me in a calming mood, I'm not sure.) You just become very invested in Samantha and Theodore's relationship, and you do (despite the peculiarity) want them to together.

The real stand outs are the leads Phoenix and Johansson, who create this romantic world for themselves despite their strange situation. You completely forget that Samantha is a computer and you start to believe that she is this real living breathing person. I don’t know the rules for award season, but don’t be shocked if people start pitching  a nomination for Scarlett. It really is extraordinary work on her part.
And Phoenix is just a chameleon, I swear. Seeing Joaquin in HER and then seeing him right after for the press Q &A was like day and night.  Phoenix was acting a tiny erratic and looked like he still needed a few hours of sleep. He gave a few awkward answers which amused me greatly (some were not that amused I learned later.) 

One thing I loved was the color palette for the film. I didn’t know how to describe it, until Jonze said the color scheme was inspired by Jamba Juice. Perfect description.  The film is a peach Jamba Juice smoothie. Sweet, refreshing, and inspired. This is what I want when I ask for new material form Hollywood. Original content like this, that leaves me pleasantly surprised. I know some people may find this a little too weird for their liking, but I feel that HER will win a lot of people over and may go all the way to the Oscars next year.

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