I keep thinking about this movie and want to see it again. Thinking about it so much since Friday night, actually, that I’m not really ready to write about it definitively…but also want to say something now while it’s all rolling around inside my head!
Spike Jonze’s reputation rests mostly on three films before this one: Being John Malkovich (written by Charlie Kaufman), Adaptation. (written by Charlie Kaufman and adapting parts of Susan Orlean’s book The Orchid Thief), and Where The Wild Things Are (written by Jonze with Dave Eggers and based in part on the classic children’s book by Maurice Sendak.)
All of them are strikingly original and sometimes amazing films. I have used the b-word – brilliant – to describe his work before.
Her, written and directed solely by Jonze, is only going to enhance his reputation.
Sometime in the not too distant future, a vulnerable writer who makes his living penning letters for hire falls in love with his new operating system. Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) and Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) may not be such an unlikely couple.
Early on, he tells her things that we suspect he’s never told anyone before, notably that his marriage has broken up because he has hidden himself from his wife. He hides nothing from Samantha. At least, that’s true for awhile.
Later in the film, when we see Theodore meet his wife (Rooney Mara) for lunch, she tells him that dating his operating system probably works well for him because he always wanted a wife but didn’t want to deal with reality.
When I see Her again, I must take a pen and some paper to scribble down these exact quotes (I never take notes the first time I see a film). There are other clever quotes, and insightful quotes, and funny quotes, but these two ideas are essential to the way the film affects me.
Without them, I would have liked the film (exciting production design with terrific use of color and style, beautiful yet understated cinematography, terrific performance, important ideas, incredibly good writing), but I may or may not have loved it. These insights touch me in a way that feels very authentic for the two characters, suggests so very much more than the few words uttered, and draws me into these characters and the situations that unfold throughout.
Worth noting, Her includes another strong performance by Amy Adams as Phoenix’s friend and neighbor.
Put this on your must-see list.