Some films have the power to seduce people, months before even the first trailer is revealed. These are the films with a kernel, a wonderful and intriguing idea at their core. Extra-Terrestrial wants to phone home. Toys coming to life, as soon human backs are turned. Man falls in love with an operating system.
The last idea, is exactly the sort of bizarre brilliance we have come to expect from Spike Jonze. His back catalogue of directorial features is quite spectacular, most notably his mind bending collaborations with writer Charlie Kaufman, on Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. Typically his films place real characters in surreal contexts and his latest offering, Her promises to be no different. It follows Theodore Twombly, a romantic soul living in LA in the near future. Following the end of a long term relationship he becomes fascinated with an intuitive operating system that is designed to develop in tandem with the user’s personality. Over time Theodore’s relationship with ‘Samantha’ deepens. They fall in love.
Beyond that compelling narrative there are plenty of other reasons to get excited about Her. First and foremost, the cast. Any film with Joaquin Phoenix in the lead promises a certain level of artistic intent, based purely on his selectiveness. Since his riveting turn in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, Phoenix has only shot Her and James Gray’s Palme D’Or nominated The Immigrant. It doesn’t end there, the operating system Samantha will be voiced by Scarlett Johansson and they are joined by a supporting cast that includes Rooney Mara and Amy Adams. Oh, and Arcade Fire have composed the soundtrack.
It is tough and unwise to judge too much based on a trailer and it is safe to say that Spike Jonze makes curiosities that don’t appeal to everyone. Yet in this case, the concept alone is a victory in itself. It promises humour and pathos yet, not unlike Jonze’s adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are, it may also prove to be quite haunting. For an indication of where this film might go, a great recommendation would be his short I’m Here which is readily available on YouTube. I’m Here is a love story between two robots living in LA, and similarly to Pixar’s Wall-E, proves that machines can really make the heart sing. Jonze is more than capable at placing a beating heart in the strangest story and given our ongoing love affair with social networks, this truly could be a love story for the millennial generation.
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