Monday, 10 February 2014

Film Review: 'Her' (2014)

Spike Jonze’s upcoming film about a man who falls in love with a robot has, quite rightly, become a bit of a joke. Saturday Night Live were quick to parody the new release with their skit ‘Me’, as well as the many Youtubers whose mock trailers could almost be confused with the actual movie. Her avoids rom-com convention and earnestly portrays romance between man and machine as unsettlingly possible. The ‘operating system’ who wins Theodore's (Joaquin Phoenix) affections is designed to look close enough to the kind of technology we use today that the audience may wonder if their own 'OS girlfriend' is a few updates away.

Shot in Los Angeles and Shanghai, the minimalistic sets injected with bursting reds and oranges create some beautiful scenes, even if Jonze’s widely shot interiors and drawn-out montages seem overindulgent at times. The characters are all drenched in pastels and fans of the fastened top button, subtly equipped with minuscule ear pieces and portable computers that look like compact mirrors. Accompanied with some profound conversations between Theodore and his computer girlfriend (Samantha - voiced by Scarlett Johansson), there are a lot of moments in Her worthy of a captioned screenshot for your Tumblr page.

The screenwriting is at its best, interestingly, outside of the main romantic plot. Theodore writes letters for a living - customers request heartfelt messages sent on their behalf to their mothers, siblings and partners. Striking a chord beyond robot-romance, the artificial letters Theodore writes have so much depth and sincerity that the idea of another human or machine mimicking emotion suddenly doesn’t seem so laughable. Even if Samantha and Theodore’s romance lacks believability for some, not many can deny that if they received one of Theodore’s letters this Valentine’s day, they wouldn’t believe it came from the heart.

Her' is released 14th Feb

Reviewed by Sarah Creedy

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