Her ★★★½

This is definitely a difficult film for me to form cohesive thoughts on. It's certainly plausible that my enjoyment will improve on repeat watches (despite leaving the theater with surprisingly little urge to see it again), but for a first time, it didn't really hit me like I thought it would.

Her is definitely going to be a strange film, in that it will likely resonate heavily with some, and not at all with others. I'm somewhere in the middle. I'm not a fan of romances - with some exceptions of course, namely the Before trilogy - so I should have been more wary of my expectations going into this film. Many reviews across this site were incredibly positive, which started to create a subtle buildup in expectations, one I didn't really notice was too high until the film ended. I was somewhat disappointed, but still now I'm trying to piece it together. The film is clearly a meditation on love, how it affects our lives, and our desires that are both physical and relational. It succeeds here, and the subtext will grow more meaningful with time. Yet, being set in the future where everyone walks around talking to earpieces, I felt like there was some commentary on technological growth, but it was too minuscule to work properly. Perhaps I'm just not grasping it at this time, but it doesn't really feel there. In addition, many of the conversations between the two leads don't really feel significant or important towards any central theme (there are some, but most really left no impression on me).

Something that impressed me was Jonze's ability to create a humane relationship in a situation that is utterly alien. Samantha and Theodore's unity feels realistic, but despite that, I didn't find Theodore particularly interesting. Nor did I find the entire narrative all that interesting - which is because of my tendency to dislike romances. This argument is entirely subjective, however, and I can definitely see how people love this film, and I certainly respect and admire the film as an objective whole. It has some very good scenes, and is filled with great performances. Joaquin Phoenix is the obvious standout, and was the sole subject of greatness in the film. Despite my passive attitude toward the character, Phoenix's performance is fantastic; running the gamut of emotions in a realistic and entirely believable way as he's absorbed into his role. One of the best acting jobs of the year.

In its technical merits, Her is often breathtaking. Hoyte van Hoytema's cinematography - bathed in vibrant, warm colors - is pure and pleasant. The indoor and outdoor scenes are framed excellently, invoking a bit of the Lost in Translation feel. The score by Arcade Fire is subtle, yet quite beautiful in its own unique style. All around, it's a pristine piece of film.

Speaking of Lost in Translation, I've seen quite a few comparisons of Her to Coppola's film, and while there are some similarities, I'd argue that the Translation was vastly more successful by following both sides of the relationship. We understand what's going on in both characters minds, which makes their relationship all the more intimate and interesting; whereas, in Her we really only see Theodore's point of view. Of course there are scenes where Samantha explains her feelings, but we never get the inner workings of her thoughts - which is something incapable of accomplishing given the film's premise. This lack of insight into Samantha annoyed me especially when a certain late-game plot point is revealed that sort-of betrays the whole humane feeling that had permeated the film. Regardless, Theodore's emotions and inner-working are complex , so it's not entirely shallow or anything.

Most of my arguments and cons with Her are subjective, due to my inherent dislike of the genre, but I can definitely see some flaws within the film. However, I do think it's a film that will grow on me (and most people), despite my lack of any real motivation to see it again. Many will love it, so it's definitely recommended viewing.

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