It's safe to say that one of the most original screenplays to come along in the last ten years has been written by Spike Jonze. Though mainly known for his directing efforts, Mr. Jonze brings forth a world, not too far into the future, that raises existential questions in a romantic and charming atmosphere.
"Her," nominated for Best Picture, centers around Theodore, played by Joaquin Phoenix, an introvert who falls in love with his OS (Operating System). Facing hardship in the wake of his impending divorce, Theodore purchases a new OS with artificial intelligence named Samantha. The female computer is voiced by Scarlett Johansson with a childlike innocence of a woman discovering her own self for the first time.
The film itself is aesthetically beautiful, with sensational production design and breathtaking locations. Yet, you are able to just as easily close your eyes and listen to the voices of Theodore and Samantha and become instantly captivated.
Mr. Phoenix continues to prove that he is an actor people need to pay more attention to. In "Her," it's his heartbreaking facial expressions and punctual comedics that bring this film to another level. Amy Adams has a small supporting role, and if you disregard her hair, she continues to have the kind of chemistry with Mr. Phoenix that spills over from their previous collaboration in "The Master."
Mr. Jonze proves that a love story can be told in a variety of different ways. Though the film has moments of hilarity, it's never gut wrenching laughter. The same goes for its dramatic sequences; never too over the top. Everything is perfectly balanced and allows for a deeper inspection into the human condition.
As for the composition and the overall look of the film, I couldn't help but be reminded of "Lost In Translation." Shot with picturesque views of a future Los Angeles, the isolation and use of soft focus brings me back to Ms. Coppola's classic. It's ironic enough that Mr. Jonze and Ms. Coppola were married for a period of time.
"Her" is a statement of where our world is heading. Without pushing a message into our faces, the filmmakers guide us to see the lack of communication that has developed in our society. If you come away from "Her" with anything, it most likely will be the message that love can exist anywhere. It makes us ponder the big questions, but most importantly, makes us truly believe in old fashioned (ish) love.
"Her" is currently playing in theaters.