February 13, 2014 6:01 pm

Her – film review

The whimsical story of a digital love affair directed by Spike Jonze
Joaquin Phoenix in 'Her'

Her is a paper-thin whimsy, set in 2025, from writer-director Spike Jonze. As we know, paper can cut and whimsies can kill. This one slices and dices your patience. Did the one-time director of Being John Malkovich and Adaptation learn nothing from collaboration with the writer of those two films, Charlie Kaufman? Kaufman could take wistful conceits – such as voyaging through John Malkovich’s body and brain – and multi-layer them. Jonze takes his conceit, a bodiless love affair between writer Joaquin Phoenix and his audio-digital work organiser (voice of Scarlett Johansson, heard through the hero’s earpiece), and serves it neat.

No soda, no fizz, not even a cocktail cherry. Perhaps a drop of bitters, as Phoenix realises that love with someone who doesn’t exist is not really – well, you get the point. We need more characters. We need more subplots. (Even just one.) Instead we get a life sentence of staring at Phoenix’s face while the actor, as skilfully as he can, goes through the 12 steps of disenchantment in his one-man LA therapy classes. That’s LA for Los Angeles, or Lovers Anonymous, or Lost Audience, according to choice.

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Nigel Andrews


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