Sunday, February 09, 2014

Best Picture Primer: Her


Admittedly, Her (or H(ipst)er) was the Best Picture nominee I was least looking forward to seeing, and while I can certainly see its merits and why it got nominated, it is my least favourite of the eight of the nine we've seen thus far.

While I highly enjoyed his screenwriting, I'm not a huge fan of Spike Jonze as a director - scarcity of material does not automatically confer quality.  That said, the story of Her is rather engaging, but not nearly as insightful as it thinks it is.  The film scratches the surface of how detached we are - and will further become, in the following decades - from real people and relationships, and relies on the interpretation and extrapolation of the audience to complete the picture.

The story is simple, for how convoluted it is for the characters - Joaquin Phoenix, who works at a company that writes heartfelt handwritten letters for other people1, purchases a new operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) for, essentially, his life, and, slowly but surely, falls in love with her.  As he realizes that more people are in the same situation as him, he becomes more comfortable revealing this relationship with others, and even goes on double dates with his digital girlfriend.  As "Samantha" becomes more self-aware, it becomes harder for humans to maintain a relationship with her.

Again, I was not at all disappointed in the story of Her, but ultimately, it was unable to maintain balance on the fine line between not saying enough to make your point and saying too much and hammering the idea home too hard.  It could very well take home some writing trophies, but it doesn't have the chops to be a Best Picture.

Other Nominations

Original Score - Will Butler, Owen Pallett
Original Song - "The Moon Song", Karen O, Spike Jonze
Production Design - K.K. Barrett, Gene Serdena
Original Screenplay - Spike Jonze

1 - Our first layer of detachment

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