Her - DVD Review

 'To describe Her simply as a love story undoubtedly does Jonze's vision a disservice'.

In my eyes, Joaquin Phoenix had a lot of ground to make up after the debacle that was I'm Still Here along with the two years of idiocy in the name of art that led up to it. The Master didn't do it for me, delivering a story I struggled to buy into starring a character played by Phoenix I found it very hard to either like or care about. Thankfully - to shamelessly employ the most obvious metaphor available - Her sees Phoenix gloriously rise anew from the ashes.

The actor's superb central performance as Theodore Twombly is a key element of Her's success. Phoenix crafts his character as a believable, likable and complex human being. Comparisons to Sandra Bullock's turn in Gravity feel apt to a degree, with Theodore being the sole character on screen for a considerable amount of the film. Equally deserving of praise is Scarlett Johansson providing the voice of Samantha, the computer operating system with which Theodore develops a relationship. Johansson's vocal performance is flawless from her first line to her last, and the unique chemistry that quickly ignites between Theodore and Samantha is palpable and authentic.

Promoted as "A Spike Jonze Love Story", taken from one perspective Her could not be more accurately described. The film deftly tackles love of different kinds through the various pairings populating it. Theodore is the natural progression from Jonze's early work directing Charlie Kaufman's scripts in Being John Malkovich and Adaptation., films anchored by idiosyncratic, lovelorn men. With Jonze also on script duty here we get a familiar yet disquietingly fantastical world for the story to take place in, similar in feel to that of Where The Wild Things Are although entirely different in aesthetic. Jonze's creation of the unspecified near future is recognisable enough to make us feel comfortable straight away, yet subtly advanced enough to give his film a satisfying sci-fi safety net.

And yet, to describe Her simply as a love story undoubtedly does Jonze's vision a disservice. Without giving too much away, Theodore's tale is arguably a small moment that Jonze chooses to focus upon at the very start of a grander, more epic narrative. This is a film which invites layer upon layer of meaning the further you delve into it. Topics contained therein include such bold choices as philosophy, emotional intelligence, the limits of the human condition and even theoretical physics, giving Jonze's film an indefinable quality that will leave you turning over and over all that has unfolded during Her's two hour running time long after watching.

A few minor issues hold Her back from perfection, most notably Jonze's inclusion and handling of the more humorous elements of his film here and there. Whilst an amusing character, Theodore's boss Paul (Chris Pratt) feels as though he's wandered out of a Judd Apatow film; similarly, a sprite Phoenix's character interacts with during an online game is reminiscent of Seth MacFarlane's Ted and ultimately comes across as misjudged. Jonze's chosen conclusion for Theodore's emotional arc also feels somewhat conventional when compared to everything that precedes it, even if it's the ending most watching the film will likely be rooting for deep down. I found myself genuinely pleased for Theodore, whilst simultaneously wishing Jonze had gone for something a little less predictable.

This is easily one of the most distinctive and thought-provoking films of last year however, genuinely unique and brilliantly acted by all involved. If it wasn't the case before, then Her without a doubt secures Jonze's position as one of the most individual and intelligent filmmakers working today.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.


  1. Great review! I never tire of reading positive things about Her. It was such a wonderful film.

    1. Thanks Brittani, glad you enjoyed the review. It's definitely a film with a lot to offer, and one I've already decided I want to revisit again soon.