When Spike Jonze was making a nam for himself on MTV directing music videos and collaborating with the crew from Jackass, I don’t think anyone outside his inner circle would have predicted he would write and direct one of the most beautiful and open love stories of the past 10 years or so.
Jonze proved in 1999 he had a unique vision and way of film making with his feature film debut, Being John Malkovich. He would continue his unique style when he again interpreted the work of Charlie Kaufman with Adaptation. Later he would write and direct the film version of the classic children’s story Where The Wild Things Are, which took great imagination due to the short length of the story and it’s very limited word count.
This leads us to where we are at present and his current film, Her. The story of Theodore set in the near future, who is a newly single man, struggling to adapt to his now seemingly lonely life. When Theodore receives his new operating system which is a form of artificial intelligence, she is given the very sultry voice of Scarlett Johanson and he immediately forms a friendship with her he desperately needs at this point in his life. As they grow closer an emotional connection is formed and develops into love. Unsure if it is a relationship that can be real he decides to embrace the love with the hopes that all love is the deep connection of the heart and mind. Theodore soon finds out no matter how perfectly matched two hearts and minds are, there is still no guarantee that it’s meant to be.
Spike Jonze masterfully creates a connection between Samantha and Theodore that even the viewer soon forgets that one of them isn’t a living breathing person. The way Jonze crafts the dialogue and scenes between them is at levels of near perfection. With some of the deepest and true thoughts on love, marriage and relationships in general that everyone can find a connection to their thoughts.. Those scenes are the ones that sell the film and get the viewer to completely embrace it.
The film is perfectly cast along side all the other amazing aspects to the film. It’s that perfect storm of everything right working as one. Joaquin Phoenix expertly plays a man just desperate to feel connected with some one again. He just wants to share all he has inside and can’t seem to make that right match. Samantha provides so much of what he desires in the heart of a woman that he easily lets himself be taken with her.
Not since Lost In Translation has an on screen love felt so right. You want so bad for things work out and for the truly happy and forever ending. Reality is what is real in Translation and with Her. It’s a true look at the human condition and what we desire and need in a partner. Jonze shows all that with true beauty and vulnerability that you can find pieces of ourselves in the story. It is one of the few films TRULY not to be missed this year and although it may not take much home on Oscar night, I will be rooting for it very much.