'Her': What the Critics Are Saying
Spike Jonze is scoring big with critics thanks to his latest outing, Her.
The film, which stars Joaquin Phoenix as a lonely man who strikes up a relationship with an operation system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), holds a 93% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Read a sampling of what top critics are saying below.
The Hollywood Reporter Chief Film Critic Todd McCarthy praised Phoenix, writing he "is enchantingly open, vulnerable, sweet-natured and yearning for emotional completion." He added: "The film is beguilingly sincere and touching in how it approaches loneliness and the compulsion to overcome it, and it asks the relevant question of whether technology fosters distance from others, helps surmount it, or both. It also inquires into the different sorts of satisfactions, and lack of same, offered by human beings and machines in an age we've already entered."
The New York Times Manohla Dargis praised the premise of the film: "At once a brilliant conceptual gag and a deeply sincere romance, Her is the unlikely yet completely plausible love story about a man, who sometimes resembles a machine, and an operating system, who very much suggests a living woman. It’s set, somehow of course, in Los Angeles, that city of plastic fears and dreams, in an unspecified time in the future. The machines haven’t risen, as they have in dystopian tales like The Terminator series, but instead have been folded into everyday life."
New York Magazine's David Edelstein wrote "Spike Jonze gets beautifully lost in Her," adding: "The movie itself must have taken Jonze to places he didn’t expect. It opens as if it’s going to be a grim satire of our social-media-saturated lives and paradoxical isolation." He also praised Phoenix's performance: "It’s hard to imagine someone more affecting than Phoenix in the role. He’s saddled—per Jonze’s notion that fashions recur—with a thick, unshaped mustache that looks like something grown accidentally in a petri dish. But behind his Groucho mask he’s wide open. Phoenix is the kind of actor who, for better or worse, strives to lose his bearings onscreen."
USA Today's Claudia Puig called the film an"evocative showcase for substantive ideas, stunning photography and production design." She added: "Phoenix is sensational and Johansson is pitch-perfect."
Stephanie Zacharek of the Village Voice was less excited about Her: " Jonze is so entranced with his central conceit that he can barely move beyond it. This is a movie about a benumbed person that itself feels chloroformed, zonked out, even in those moments when Jonze is clearly striving for depth of feeling. Its metaphors are more obvious than the bricks that cruel mouse Ignatz used to hurl at poor, lovelorn Krazy Kat, and yet not nearly as direct. Instead of just being desperately heartfelt, Her keeps reminding us — through cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema's somber-droll camera work, through Phoenix's artfully slumped shoulders — how desperately heartfelt it is."