Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Her

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language, sexual content, and brief graphic nudity
Profanity:Very strong language
Nudity/Sex:Virtual sex, explicit sexual references, sexual situations, nudity
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking
Violence/Scariness:Tense emotional confrontations and loss
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:December 25, 2013

her-joaquin-phoenix-spike-jonze

“Transition objects” are usually thought of as the stuffed toys toddlers hold onto so as a way of feeling more secure as they begin to separate from their parents and navigate the bigger world.  But we all have them.  We all carry real or virtual talismans to keep us from feeling adrift or abandoned.

And we all understand the bliss and torment of the Rorschach test stage of love, as what we project onto the objects of our physical and emotional desire has to give way to the reality of who they are.  If we’re lucky, it’s even better than we imagined and they feel that way about us, too.

Director Spike Jonze (“Being John Malcovich,” “Where the Wild Things Are”), working from his own screenplay, combines these two ideas in a wistful love story set slightly in the future simply called, in a reflection of its longing, “Her.”  Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore and his job as a ghost writer of analog letters makes a kind of sense as the logical next step in a world where communication by text and Skype might make the idea of an old-school correspondence more valuable just as the ability to create them is barely vestigial.

Theodore spends his days writing letters of great tenderness and affection but there is none in his own life.  Recently divorced from Catherine (Rooney Mara) for reasons we never learn, he is withdrawn, isolated, alone.  When he is not working, he stays in his spare, generic apartment and plays a video game.  And then a new operating system comes on the market that is so responsive it virtually (in both senses of the word) achieves consciousness.  (Apparently, no one there has seen “Terminator,” because this sounds a lot like Skynet to me, but perhaps that is the weaponized version.)  Theodore decides to give it a try.

The new operating system calls herself “Samantha” and she has two enormously appealing qualities.  First, she has the throaty, intimate voice and delicious laugh of Scarlett Johansson (a performance of magnificent warmth and wit).  Second, she is utterly devoted to Theodore and utterly formed by him.  It is that most gratifying of relationships because he is everything to her and she is content for him to be so.  Plus, she is wonderfully competent, sorting through thousands of emails in a fraction of a second to organize them and, along the way, learn everything about him.

Theodore is not ready for a real relationship with a woman who might want something from him or be different from what he visualizes or idealizes.  But Samantha seems perfect, both in her innocence and in her progress.  He has the pleasure of explaining the world to her and his spirit opens up as he sees her curiosity, appreciation, and engagement.  He is reassured that the people around him (his boss, played by Chris Pratt, his neighbor and college friend, played by Amy Adams) seem to think it is perfectly normal to have a virtual girlfriend.  Samantha seems happy about it, too.

But as we have seen in “Lars and the Real Girl,” “Ruby Sparks,” George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” (which became the musical “My Fair Lady’), there’s no happily ever after in a relationship with a creation.  Samantha’s growth trajectory is astronomical.  No single human can really have her.  And the human qualities she lacks turn out to be important for a relationship, too.

Jonze’s story may be set in the future but it is an ancient one, going back to  the original Greek myth about the sculptor who fell in love with the statue he made and whose name became the title of Shaw’s play.  It is an eternal story because it is a more extreme version and thus a powerful metaphor about the risks and pleasures of intimacy.  Jonze tells that story here with great sensitivity and lyricism, the kind of artistry that machinery can never replace.

Parents should know that this movie includes strong language, sexual references and situations and nudity, and tense and sad experiences.

Family discussion:  Would you like to have an e-friend like Samantha?  What makes those relationships easier than interacting in real life?  What makes them harder?

If you like this, try: “Lars and the Real Girl,” “Ruby Sparks,” “Pygmalion,” “Catfish,” and “You’ve Got Mail”



Previous Posts

Trailer: Chef
Jon Favreau follows his big-budget special effects movies ("Iron Man," "Cowboys and Aliens") with a return to his small, indie roots ("Swingers") as director/writer/star of the scrumptious-looking "Chef."  (WARNING: Some strong language) [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tP6SE65F-h4[/yout

posted 8:00:51am Apr. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Have a Blessed Easter: Movies for the Family
My gallery of Easter movies includes "Ben Hur," several different movie versions of the life of Jesus, a couple of choices just for kids, and a classic musical named for a classic song, Irving Berlin's "Easter Parade." There's something for every family celebrating this weekend. [youtube]https://

posted 8:00:44am Apr. 19, 2014 | read full post »

A Dramatic Commercial for TNT
I love this commercial for TNT! [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIkPeZKP-d4[/youtube]

posted 8:33:40am Apr. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Movie Stingers: Scenes After the Credits
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRJ38y4Jn6k[/youtube] Ferris Bueller had one.  Marvel superhero movies sometimes have two.  When did it become a thing to have a scene after the credits (sometimes called a stinger)? New York Magazine's Vulture column has the history of these extended

posted 8:00:47am Apr. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Fading Gigolo
John Turturro wrote, directed, and stars in "Fading Gigolo," a bittersweet meditation on the ways we seek and hide from intimacy, sometimes at the same time. Turturro plays Fioravante, a florist who works part-time for Murray (Woody Allen), the third-generation proprietor of a used and rare books

posted 9:24:32pm Apr. 17, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.