Spike Jonze, a man with an impressive list of accolades, has wowed critics once again with his latest movie, Her. The film, which stars Joaquin Phoenix and the sultry voice of Scarlett Johanssen, creates in the mind of its viewers an understanding of a speculative world that may soon be plausible. It shows how the trials and tribulations of conventional relationships can give way to new-generation love affairs that are blessed with the organic conversations and deep emotional connections that we share with physically tangible loved ones. The film received a limited release in mid-December, 2013.
The New York Times Manohla Dargis praised the premise of the film, saying it was “at once a brilliant conceptual gag and a deeply sincere romance.”
The film has a 93 percent fresh rating on film aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes. Jessica Herndon, top film critic for the Associated Press says, “In a dark theater, surrounded by the wondrous world Jonze creates in Her, it’s difficult to avoid getting emotional.” Herndon elaborates on the mood, noting the melancholy tone throughout, as Theodore, immaculately performed by a brooding and vulnerable Phoenix. In the movie, Phoenix’s character capitulates to his feelings of despondency, yet finds refuge in glimpses of hope and empowerment in his feelings of love and adoration for the witty operating system.
Jonze’s latest film is not the first time he has wowed critics; his work transcends the peripheries of big filmmaking to include directing music videos for popular bands such a Daft Punk, REM, and the Beastie Boys.
The end credits feature a song entitled Supersymmetry, scored for the film by Win Butler, vocalist and guitar player the Grammy Award winning Canadian indie-rock band Arcade Fire. Jonze discussed the strategy of the collaboration, noting that the song was originally composed for the film, and not for the band’s new album, Reflektor.
“What Win and I started talking about in the beginning was just that we wanted the soundtrack to have this electricity to it, a current to it, but not to be electronic and not to use synthesizers at all. For it not to feel synthetic, but to feel like hand-made, but still have an electricity to it, and also just to sort of play this sort of romance and love story and longing of [Phoenix’s character] Theodore.”
Spike Jonze is the former son-in-law of Francis Ford Coppola, creator-director of Oscar Award winning film The Godfather. Jonze was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director for his work on the 1999 film Being John Malkovich. Joaquin Pheonix has also wowed viewers as well as critics with his latest Hollywood role; he has been described as Jonze’s dark doppelganger, or paranormal twin. During the production of the film, Jonze was heard whispering on set to Phoenix, “I’m always amazed when any actor can decipher my direction.”
In a comprehensive précis of Spike Jonze’s work on his latest film, Vulture Entertainment explains how he’s mastered the insertion of his own passions and sensibilities into a romantic tale between man and machine. As with all his films, instead of hanging back and observing, he was on set wowing actors, crew, and critics alike. “It’s just the way I like to work,” Jonze tells Vulture Entertainment. “I’d rather be close.”
By Apryl Legeas