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Movie Breakdown: Her

January 9, 2014

Film

People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing lead us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Spike Jonze’s first film since 2009′s Where The Wild Things Are sounds predictably odd – it involves Joaquin Phoenix falling in love with his computer (voiced by Scarlett Johansson).

The Reality:

Her is actually a pretty standard love story.  Granted, it’s framed in an interesting way, as Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore does indeed find himself in love with his Scarlett Johansson-voiced operating system, Samantha, but there’s nothing at the film’s core that you haven’t seen play out before.  So what makes it special?  Johansson’s performance and Spike Jonze’s direction.

The hype about Johansson’s voice work is warranted.  At no point do you see any sort of visual representation of her character, but there’s never a moment where you don’t fully understand what she’s saying or how she’s feeling.  In all honesty, it’s an incredible performance.  And then there’s Jonze, who is also impressive on all fronts.  His subtle take on the future is charming, and his patience with the story really allows for every part of it to feel real.

There’s plenty more I could rave about, but these “reviews” are supposed to be short.  Just go see the film, friends.

The Lesson:

Spike Jonze may not know how to make a bad film.

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