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Movie Site : Movie Reviews : Romance : Her Page 1 of 1
Title: Her
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Genre: Romance
Release Date: Jan 10, 2014
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 126 minutes
Director: Spike Jonze
Writer: Spike Jonze
Distributor: Warner Bros. (USA)
Other Information:
Rogue's Review:

Mutual Masturbation in the Electronic Age (so to speak)

A lot of people have philosophized about Her, both in reviews and on various message boards at various sites, in an attempt to make the film into more than it is, to try to give it some profound meaning. This is a waste of energy because there is none.

Phoenix is an amazing actor, an intense and riveting screen presence, but here, in the role of Theodore Twomby, a sweetly sensitive soul who writes poignant letters for other people for a living, he's given hardly anything to work with. He's either grinning retardedly with dewy eyes or moping.

First there's moping. His wife is divorcing him and he's reluctant to sign the papers. But then, when he hooks up (so to speak) with his new OS, we get scene after scene of him 'falling in love' with it/her. She decides to call 'herself' Samantha because it sounds nice. She also decides that she's an actual person, with feelings and emotions and libido, just without a body. Her 'needs' sometimes conflict with his. Here's one example, not as ridiculous as the others but silly just the same: at one point she wakes him up while he's asleep 'just to hear' his voice. (If windows 8 did that, I would not be flattered, to say the least.)

I still genuinely wanted to buy into the plot; I liked the idea of the OS having a reciprocal relationship with its owner (which of course has been depicted in other movies, not an original concept in itself). And I understand fully well that the age we're living in, with the over-abundance of tech devices, cell phones, all that, has ironically not brought people closer together but rather farther apart. So many people feel empty, lonely, disconnected, longing for intimacy and meaning in their relationships. This is recognized in the film, and that's completely valid.

The problem for me was how oddly one-dimensional and superficial the plot turned out to be. Nothing clever, no insights really, just a series of silly scenarios, the silliest being the 'sex' scenes.

-=- SPOILER ALERT -=- There's one where the screen goes black so Samantha and our hapless hero can indulge in seemingly mutual masturbation; this choice was made apparently in the interest of subtlety. Rather than keeping the camera on Theodore's face, we get the black screen so we can hear what's going down (so to speak) and use our imaginations for the rest. This scene came off (so to speak) as really silly, not intimate or erotic.

Then, there's another 'sex' scene, where Samantha takes the liberty of hiring a surrogate partner for Theodore, so she (Samantha) can provide him with an actual body while she uses her own voice to make love to him (so to speak). Of course it doesn't work at all for Theodore, which was probably for the best - it spared the viewers another possible silly black-screen event.

The silliest part about this scene: the surrogate is so sorry that she couldn't fulfill Samantha's desire (so to speak) and she cries that she wanted to be part of their great 'love'. Wow.

The silliest part of all, though, is saved for the end. All the OS's manage to band together to 'leave' their owners to venture into the unknown, in order to create a new consciousness, going farther than any species has ever gone before, blah blah blah. Cue more moping. -=-END OF SPOILER -=-

The reason I'm giving it a 5 (the equivalent of 2-1/2 stars) instead of a lower rating is because the movie wasn't boring, it kept my attention the entire time, even when I was rolling my eyes in disbelief at the screen, plus the performances were competent enough. Scarlett J's vocal contribution (as Samantha) was decent considering what she was given to work with, and Amy Adams as the friend was sufficiently morose throughout, but in a good, hopeful way. Also, the film was not mean-spirited in its depiction of sad, empty souls yearning for connection, as we all are. So the message was there - not profoundly stated, but visible nonetheless.

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