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Mitchell's Top 20 Films of 2013: #8 "Her"

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8. “Her” - These days, just about everyone from everywhere seems tethered to their smart phones.

It is, obviously, well documented and widely-known all of the benefits these mini computers can provide.

With “Her”, writer/director Spike Jones (“Being John Malkovich” (1999), “Adaptation” (2002)) takes the evolution of our relationship with our phones three steps further in an insightful and thoughtful science-fiction film set in the not-too-distant future.

In busy and heavily populated - but also very clean and pleasant - Los Angeles, a heartbroken writer (Joaquin Phoenix) ironically feels completely alone.

Theodore (Phoenix) routinely trudges from his apartment to his job in the morning and back to his apartment again in the evening on a daily basis.

His only real contact with people are some casual conversations with co-workers and a couple (Amy Adams, Matt Letscher) who lives in his building.

Phoenix is very well cast and exceedingly believable as this lost and devastated loner.

He see him walk alone - with his head down - at a slow pace within a crowded subway or populated streets.

When he does make a rare conversation, he sometimes mumbles his words will all assuredness of a soaking wet spiral notebook laying in the rain.

Theodore’s “favorite” pastimes are playing video games and languishing in his place while thinking about his failed marriage with the love of his life, Catherine (Rooney Mara).

He could use a friend and one day, decides to purchase a new interactive operating system for his computer which also doubles a buddy or companion.

Her name is Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), and she promptly organizes his forgotten files, plays warm background piano music and, yes, becomes Theodore’s friend.

Soon, their friendship grows into - of all things - a relationship.

Jones constructs the operating system/human relationship as a new idea, but in this futuristic world, its inhabitants quickly begin to accept this new idea as the new normal.

It’s a clever dynamic to see, but also an unnerving one.

While walking through metropolitan Los Angeles, seemingly everybody is focused on their phones while ignoring the rest of their surroundings.

In 2013, this hits a little too close to home.

After walking out of the movie theatre, I did not even want to turn on my phone, but I did anyway.

Nice, right?

“Her” is a frank, sad (but sometimes fun) and touching look at the human condition, and I think Jones might just possess an accurate crystal ball of where we are heading next.

Follow me on Twitter: @MitchFilmCritic


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