A Romance for HER (and him)

Her

 

Tea: Roasted Almond Tea

 

Now that the annual Academy Awards are drawing near, it is time to review some of the old winners, since I now have time to watch them. I usually couldn’t give less about this arbitrary award ceremony or all the pompous glamour associated with it, but if they actually award a good movie it would be cruel not to recognize it as such, simply because it received an Oscar. If anything the category of best original script deserves to be scrutinized. That being said, let’s take a look at the 2014 winner in that category: Her by Spike Jonze.

Her tells the story of Theodore, an emotional man composing handwritten letters for loved ones for a living. He has recently gone almost-through with the divorce from his wife Catherine. Alone and only spending each day stuck between work, video games, and online sex-chats, he gets interested in a new OS that is supposed to act and feel like a real person. This way he meets his new OS Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). Surprised by how life-like Samantha is, Theodore opens up bit by bit and soon she becomes more than just another ‘person’ to talk to or simply his personal assistant. Samantha is constantly evolving and soon she discovers something that might just feel like love to both of them.

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– Theodore is your avarage slightly socially awkward handwritten letters author that has just gone through a break-up –

If all of that sounds a bit sappy, don’t be turned off. While this is generally a romance movie, it has a fresh and new spin to it and certainly doesn’t feel stale like the 5000th romantic movie with Richard Gere or his 100 copies. This is a very sombre love story that does not feel the need to fall into an already existing category, but instead carves out its own niche. Sci-Fi Romance would be an appropriate description. We are never told when all of this takes place, but the aesthetics of the film make it clear that we are in the future, without any unnecessary little numbers appearing one by one at the bottom right of the screen like every other sci-fi movie. Instead of the usual love at first sight in impossible circumstance, the movie shows us the daily life of two individuals slowly falling for one another and in that creates a far more realistic version of a romance, albeit be it in the future.

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– Also: Smartphones will get even smaller in the future and smarter…by a lot –

The lead actor Joaquin Phoenix does a fantastic job at portraying the emotionally scarred Theodore that still manages to see the good in things. He simply copes with his divorce in a different (and stereotypically) unmanly way, but he would not be considered manly anyway. Starting with his job and his overall social skills. Scarlett Johansson does an equally amazing job with her voice as Samantha. She portrays a living person always with that shadow of a doubt that she is nothing more than a program. Their love story develops alongside her personality and it is exciting to see her grow emotionally.

You know movies, there is always that dramatic moment that somehow feels out of place in comedies. There is the sad part where everything seems impossible in a romance. And there is the sad bit where a main character almost dies in an action movie. So how does Her handle THE moment. Pretty good actually. I was relieved to see that they didn’t go for any technical malfunction-your-girlfriend-was-deleted-sort-of-thing. Instead they portray a realistic scenario for the situation that lets you view Theodore’s and Samantha’s relationship in a new light. It simultaneously manages to evolve plot and characters without doing injustice to either of them.

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– Even though it often shifts its tone, I would still classify Her as a feel-good movie –

The soundtrack is a bit too heavy on the acoustic guitar for my taste, but it certainly fits his character. So while this is nothing I would buy in CD afterwards, it definitely fits the tone of the movie. What is far more amazing is the camera and visual effects. It makes this future not look over the top, but rather a natural evolution of our present day. Although I will say if that is the way we play video games in the future I am going to kill myself. Kinect must have won the console war and laid siege to common sense and intuitive controls in a cold blooded guerrilla war.

Her definitely deserves recognition (not an Oscar, again) for being a well-written and even better played movie that I, admittedly, would not have known about, if it weren’t for the Oscars. There I said it. It puts a new spin on the romance genre and shows us a believable vision of the future and while it seems new and exciting also manages to show the dark sides of such technological developments. Yet, the movie manages to shift the tone throughout its runtime and can still end on a happy note by the end of it. It is a movie you will talk about afterwards, since I can imagine people will have different stances on. So join the discussion and find out whether you would fall in love with your OS (don’t worry, it doesn’t run on Windows).

 

 

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4 thoughts on “A Romance for HER (and him)

  1. So, watched the movie yesterday and it is great! The acting is very convincing and intense. There are a lot of close-up-scenes and the actors (all of the few there are) are doing an amazing job in conveying their feelings through their facial expressions. And seeing that this movie only relies on good (and witty) writing and the portrayal of characters, this is a huge challenge, because there are no action scenes or elaborate visual effects that might blend over lacking acting skills. Thus, the movie creates an intimate atmosphere in which the audience can really feel with the characters.
    The setting is very ingenious, too. It´s a modern world but not with an over-the-top depiction like in so many other futuristic movies. It is authentic and I personally find it charming to see all those retro-elements in people´s clothing (though I really don´t like the moustache of Theodore, sorry.)
    One question remains, however, and it has nothing to do with the ending, which was fine, by the way. What´s with the colour red? At first, I thought it was probably just the current trend to dress in red, but the colour repeats itself in the surroundings itself so often when you watch out for it that I can hardly imagine that there isn´t another, more important reason behind it. Colour of love? Hm, bit of a lame explanation. Perhaps I am totally wrong, but… even the background of the cover is red AND Theo is wearing his red shirt, so… thoughts?

    Like

    • Glad you liked it. Concerning your question: The colour certainly has an important role to play here. My take on it, is the fact that for one, the future is made more appealing. No shiny chrome and cold colours, but a warm and inviting place. Second, it makes everything inside the movie feel very calm and not hostile at all. The only true negative aspect in this movie is loneliness and since there is no physical equivalent of that it would seem cheap to simply colour the scenes appropriately (*cough like Pan’s Labyrinth did *cough). This shifts the entire action to the acting level and makes for a far more rewarding experience. In my mind at least.

      Like

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