There's Something About Her, but There's Also Something Missing
- Tuesday, December 24, 2013
DVD Release Date: May 13, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: December 18, 2013 (limited); wider December 25
Rating: R for language, sexual content and brief graphic nudity
Run Time: 120 min.
Director: Spike Jonze
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde
Holiday movie season brings all types of films—another Christmas story (Black Nativity), another superhero movie (Thor: The Dark World), a Disney blockbuster (Frozen) and Oscar contenders that, whatever their other merits, have been widely remarked upon for their debauchery (Wolf of Wall Street) and scenes of graphic violence (12 Years a Slave). Where are the films for adults that concentrate on matters of the heart? Sure, we have Saving Mr. Banks and Nebraska, but those stories are more about professional and parent/child relationships than about romance and affection.
Could it be that the most acclaimed movie of 2013 about human love and relationships is a story about a man’s relationship with… an operating system?
Maybe so, and that's both good and bad. If you were hoping for a genuine, affecting love story between two flesh-and-blood individuals, you're out of luck. This year, the mainstream holiday release that best unpacks the innermost mysteries of human connectivity is about the feelings of one Theodore Twombly for something that mimics flesh and blood. Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix, The Master) is a writer-for-hire who pens deeply personal correspondence for others via BeautifulHandwrittenLetters.com. But the object of his own affection is nothing more than bits and bytes of data, given voice (in a compelling performance) by Scarlett Johansson (Don Jon).
Her, from writer/director Spike Jonze, is a thoughtful, engaging look at one man's inability to connect with real women the way he does with an entity that seems to understand him in ways an actual person cannot. But the film includes explicit content that merits caution. Her is at times warm, but it's also blunt in depicting a relationship that, even though it involves only one human being, starts off as erotically charged (phone sex takes place quickly, and is audibly explicit) before settling into familiarity and then cooling.
Theodore spends his not-too-distant-future days penning heartfelt letters for clients that pay his company to write deeply emotional correspondence. Although his work days are filled with emotional outpouring, his time at home is much more emotionally stunted. The only thing standing between him and a divorce is his inability to sit down with his wife (Rooney Mara, Ain't Them Bodies Saints) to sign the papers.
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