In the near future, people use their mobile devices for everything you could possibly imagine. A computer software manufacturer has invented a new operating system that is tailored specifically to the user, which he named “OS 1?.
Theodore is a quiet, awkward man going through a sorted divorce. He works as a professional letter writer for people who have a hard time expressing their feeling in to words. He also surfs the Internet and plays video games with little interaction with other people. He decides he wants to try OS 1 and the OS creates Samantha. At first, Theodore finds himself unsure about interacting in such a way with software and Samantha is like a child, taking in the world at an incredible pace. But as time passes, he begins to feel a sense of attachment and growing affection for his new companion.
Her is written and directed by Spike Jonze. He has a reputation of making films that have a slightly curved sense of reality such as Where the Wild Things Are and Being John Malkovitch. What I mean by this is he makes things in a realistic way with a touch of fantasy. It stars Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Chris Pratt, Rooney Mara and the voice of Scarlett Johansson as Samantha. The film received five nominations at the 86th Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Original Score, Best Original Song for “The Moon Song”, Best Production Design, and won for Best Original Screenplay.
Jonze has created this very literal look at the future of our society. We have become so dependent on technology and smart phones that the story doesn’t seem all that far-fetched. As a society, we are slowly disassociating ourselves with real human interactions by immersing in social media and interactive gaming. For decades now, cinema has pressed the idea that computers will become smarter than us to a point that they become self-aware.
Johansson and Phoenix have done a fantastic job in their roles. The two create this symbiotic relationship that feels so natural. It really is a pleasure watching their love for each other grow as the movie progresses. Obviously, Phoenix’s on screen acting is perfect for the timid writer with so much love to share but the real talent in the film is Scarlett Johansson. Although there is plenty of voice acting in animated films, there is no visual reference for her to act through. She only has her voice to convey the raw, unfamiliar emotions that she is experiencing. This is where the color steps in to drive the current emotion. When a certain emotion is needed to be felt at a specific time, that particular color in the scene becomes bolder. The earliest example is when Theodore is installing the OS; the install screen is red as well as his shirt.
Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore Twombly
Scarlett Johansson as Samantha (voice)
Amy Adams as Amy
Rooney Mara as Catherine
Olivia Wilde as Amelia
Chris Pratt as Paul
Matt Letscher as Charles
The very first thing that I noticed is that Spike Jonze didn’t make the coloring of everything bold and bright but more of an overall toned-down palette. The 1080p AVC transfer looks excellent. As I said, color is very important in the film and when emotions are felt, they are noticeably bolder. The intricacies are best seen in the close ups and in a lot of the fabrics but, for the most part, the picture is on the softer side. There is also a very light grain on screen and there are some contrast issues but they’re never too distracting. This look is what Jonze was striving to create and he was successful.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track has created an impeccable environment for this love story. It’s engaging and it’s another element that helps shape the world Jonze has established. The highs are clear and always even, making the dialogue somewhat easy to distinguish over the score. There is very little LFEs but they are robust when used. The audio also captures the ambient sounds in the various scenes and locations. The best example of this is during the city scenes. The music plays an integral part in conveying emotions just like the colored accents. The score by Arcade Fire sets the mood perfectly. The seemingly simple but very complex music has so much emotion behind it that you can’t help but be moved. There was a lot of care put in to encoding the extraordinary mix.
The extras included are substantial and very different from the typical set of featurettes on other releases. Particularly, including a short film named The Untitled Rick Howard Project. It takes the bonus features to a new level.
-The Untitled Rick Howard Project: Created by Lance Bangs and running at almost 25 minutes long, the documentary/short film is used to go behind the scenes and making of Her. It’s a great looking and an informative extra in HD which is a real treat to be included in the extras.
-Her: Love in the Modern Age: This featurette included footage with various writers who talk about the various elements in the film.
-How Do You Share Your Love with Somebody?: This series of clips has some behind the scenes footage as well as scenes from the film.
Two-disc set w/ 1 Blu-ray and 1 DVD
UltraViolet Digital Copy
1080p MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect ratio – 1.85:1
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French (Canadian) Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Her is a beautifully told love story that comes from an unexpected place. The entire cast is meticulously put together to play their roles perfectly. The two that stand out the most are Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson who develop an organic relationship that grows from their first encounter. The Blu-ray is gorgeous and the audio mix delivers the fascinating score. It’s a beautiful weave of colors, sound and emotion that immerses you in the story. The extras are substantial and with the behind the scenes feature being a short film, I don’t think the words “in-depth” does it justice. Bottom line is if you’re a fan of Spike Jonze previous works, you’ll appreciate a good love story or if you want to see a good film, I highly recommend picking this one up.