Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Film review: HER

Directed by Spike Jonze


God knows few things are more tedious than discussing the great dangers of the Internet. How it corrupts. How it vitiates your moral principles. How easily it lets you target your sexual desires (relevant in this instance). There’s a reason why all this talk is so tedious, and the reason is its total, glaring pointlessness. It’s not like you will log off the Internet altogether and donate all your money to a local school.

And yet haven’t we all become emotional perverts who would rather post a picture than put it in words? Her asks this question. It isn’t tedious because it isn’t didactical and doesn’t try to split your head with a hammer. It’s actually very understated, and there’s an awkward, quirky love story on top of it – a sort of deeper Ruby Sparks without the cloy cuteness.

The film is set in the future where some of those great dangers are a fully realized reality. It’s computers all around, of course, and Jonze’s future looks like a depressing candyland inhabited by emotionally confused, often frustrated people who don’t wear belts and who do odd things for a living. Theodore Twombly (a good if unrevelatory performance from Joaquin Phoenix), for instance, writes love letters for those who can’t express their feelings. He also mourns the death of his own relationship. Enter his new operational system that can be customized according to his own preferences and desires. The OS is called “Samantha” and talks like Scarlett Johansson, and he finds himself addicted and in love. Johansson’s voice can do that. 

The supporting cast includes Amy Adams and Rooney Mara, so you know you’re in good hands. It’s never quite overwhelming, the sound of Arcade Fire’s “Suppersymmetry” (they are responsible for the soundtrack) playing in the background captures the mood perfectly. Her  is a very meditative, slow-paced film that looks like a therapy course that brings no relief. A fairy tale for grown-ups. A lovely romantic drama with an edge. Stylish but maybe too nice.

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