FILM REVIEW: Her
Stars: Joaquinn Phoenix, Amy Adams, Chris Pratt and Scarlett Johansson.
Spike Jonze is famed for many things – from co-creating ‘Jackass’ to directing ‘Being John Malkovich’ and ‘Adaptation’ – both films were critically well received and are ‘film makers’ films’. I think it was for this reason that neither of them grabbed me. However, after watching his latest feature ‘Her’, I see Jonze as a cynical, dystopian version of Wes Anderson – and it’s brilliant.
In this review I’m not going to go into details about the plot or the story – if I did, it might put you off as the viewer. For example; if I were to tell you the film was about a man distancing himself from the complexity of human relationships and instead opting to embark on a passionate relationship with a Tamagotchi, you surely would feel put off, or maybe not, you might think that sounds hilarious.
The funny thing is – it isn’t, because Spike Jonze doesn’t allow it to be. In truth, it’s done beautifully.
First off, the film is stunning to look at Hoyte Van Hoytema (yes, that is his name), captures the look and feel of the not too distant future by expertly utilizing a shallow depth of field with breathtaking composition. Secondly, the soundtrack provided by the ever so ‘out there’ Arcade Fire is the sound of the future, dystopia and familiar. Warm in places and as cold and jarring as your hard-drive in others, whilst maintaining static like warmth that only a familiar voice on the radio can bring.
Joaquin Phoenix is brilliant in this role, his quirky insecurity and lack of confidence only makes the film better – even if you do feel like throttling him at certain points. Scarlett Johansson’s voice is also pretty good.
The real hero here however, (alliteration chaps) is the director. The story is a ‘Spike Jonze love story’, it’s set in the future where connection is thought of in ‘fibre optic’ rather than human. The longing for physical connection presented in the film is wonderfully contrasted against the cold black mirror that offers the characters an easy but unfulfilled and ironically detached existence.
Jonze’s vision of human dependence on technology breaks the mould in a few ways, but plays on the age old Orwellian fear that one day, machines will develop in ways we may not be comfortable with.
I don’t think any other director could have pulled it off with such a clear sense of style. If I had to fault this film I would say there were scenes where the decisions the characters make are questionable (like most decisions) and that the universe we are invited into perhaps lacks conviction (which could be said about any film set in the future).
Dystopia has never looked so good.