No. 163:
Empire Magazines Greatest Challenge: 301 films, 301 words

Spike Jonze is a remarkable Hollywood talent who only emerges once every couple of years, but when he does, the products that he helms are spectacular. Her is his latest and greatest masterwork.

The story may emerge from Sci-Fi origins, but the genre touch is the backdrop to the far more compelling love story that lies at the centre of the drama. Phoenix gives an actually restrained and invested performance as the lonely, somewhat selfish and disconnected Theodore, and the supporting cast across the board deliver in every regard. The film is great satire of the moment, a moving commentary on our affiliation with technology, and through technology our relationships with each other, and experiencing the human condition. The strangeness of the scenario is dampened by how quickly it is accepted into the norms of society. The bloated mimicry of our modern mediums and advertising are often hilarious, but it is how Theodore relates to the people around him in this gnarled version of the world that of today.

But, while questions are raised about the nature of the human condition, Her is more interested its deeply written and engaging characters, and it holds Spike Jonze’s strongest screenplay to date, with exposition woven naturally through the gorgeous environments and images. The uncomfortable nature of the story is dwelled upon in some detail, inarticulate when Theodore meets the surrogate. But the first sex scene is played straight and emotionally without remorse. The remarkable, almost world changing implications of the climax are gratifyingly undercut by the building tragedy of their personal relationships collapsing around them. Sustained by a beautifully understated soundtrack by Arcade Fire and Karen O, and really wonderful cinematography, Her is one of the most notable love stories of recent times, and one of the most perfect films of the year.

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