Many theatergoers may have seen Spike Jonze in a role as Jordan Belfort’s one-time boss in The Wolf of Wall Street considering that film’s decent box office run. However, Jonze has had a much bigger impact on film in recent months than just his small role in that film as well as his producing capacity on Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa. Spike Jonze also happens to be the man behind Her, which just opened nationwide this past weekend. Her is an interesting film that does quite well in opening discussion on technology and its role in humanity’s future. It’s funny, touching, engrossing and features a strong performance from Joaquin Phoenix (who has been on a roll since his infamous preparations for his mockumentary, I’m Still Here).
Her follows Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a loner who is still trying to come to terms with his impending divorce. As he comes across a new operating system for his phone, he decides to buy it and learns it is operated by the AI, Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). As the two learn more about each other they slowly begin to fall for one another. Spike Jonze both directs and writes this film.
When you think about the film afterwards, you really have to wonder how Her didn’t end up as a gigantic mess. It is very dramatic and dark at times while other scenes can be filled with boyish humor. There are no easy answers with this film either. Yet under the direction of Spike Jonze this ends up being a wonderful and coherent film. The attention to detail and character makes it actually seem like we visited the future for two hours, and with so much included, there is something for everyone to take out of this film (even if it will be an incredibly difficult sell to the masses).
The cast that Spike Jonze assembles is also incredible. Joaquin Phoenix is quickly making a case for himself as one of his generation’s elite actors. Phoenix brings so much emotion to this film while being completely subtle, and this was all while talking to a phone for the majority of the film. Scarlett Johansson’s voice work is also quite strong, and she makes sure that Samantha completely works as a female lead. Rooney Mara (making a complex and sympathetic character out of Theodore’s ex), Chris Pratt (who doesn’t get a lot of screen time but still brings a lot of great humor to the film as Theodore’s coworker) and, especially, Amy Adams (who does a great job of handling what might be the most original character in the film as Theodore’s friend) make up a fantastic supporting cast.
Her isn’t perfect (the film never really drags but it still feels like the two hour runtime is much longer than it actually is for example) but it brings so much creativity (another strong point in the use of originality in this film is its music as it is something you don’t see too often in film) and asks so many intriguing questions about life that it is hard not to like it.