Director Spike Jonze’s near-future meditation on love and romance won’t appeal to everyone, especially those who can’t get over some of the oddness, but the film offers some poignancy for those who can look past – or better yet, embrace – its quirks.
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 2 Hr. 6 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, UltraViolet
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 05/13/2014
Writer Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) can’t help but mope. He’s in the middle of a divorce from his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara), and his job as a writer of "handwritten" letters, made-to-order for those who don’t have the time or inclination to write something themselves, only reminds him of his fundamental loneliness and isolation. Late night sexual chat sessions offer some release, but just leave him feeling empty, if not perplexed.
The Production Rating: 4/5
On a whim, Theodore picks up a new operating system (OS) for his computer that touts the incorporation of artificial intelligence. After a short set up, the OS introduces itself to him as Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johannson), interacting with him and expressing itself in such a natural and human way, that Theodore can’t help but be intrigued.
Samantha immediately proves a highly capable personal assistant, organizing Theodore’s writing, email and calendar with both speed and intuition, but its warm and engaging personality moves their relationship from one of utility to something more personal as they begin treating each other as good friends and soon lovers. How a human being can have a relationship with a software program is hard for anyone to comprehend, much less Theodore, but he can’t deny he’s finally found something he’s been missing, even when he was married to the fully flesh-and-blood Catherine. Nevertheless, he’ll learn that all relationships, no matter how unusual, are challenging; the ones he encounters with Samantha will prove unique, but also surprisingly ordinary.
Because of its occasional, undeniable weirdness, it’s tempting to look at director Spike Jonze’s latest film purely as a metaphor for how society reacts to unconventional romances (and how that changes over time), but viewing it through that lens means making the film more heavy handed than it is. It’s better just to take the story, written by Jonze, at face value with its near-future, cultural oddities; meditations on loneliness; and unresolved questions about the human condition. Despite the strangeness of the world and situation Jonze has crafted, it’s hard not to feel a bit moved as ultimately we’ve all experienced some level of what’s on display, be it the end of a relationship, a sense of disconnection from the world, or the inability get past a lingering melancholy. Jonze’s inimitable quirkiness almost distracts from these core themes, but natural performances by both Phoenix and Johansson, not to mention their chemistry in voice only interactions, grounds the story and legitimizes the characters’ relationship. Even so, Her will likely prove too out there for some viewers, though I have a feeling Jonze wouldn’t want it any other way.
Framed at 1.85:1 (and, for once, NOT modified to 1.78:1, per Warner's past practice) and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, the transfer provides what I assume is a faithful presentation of the film’s desaturated, low contrast, cinematography by director of photography Hoyte Van Hoytema. Thanks to a look that seems inspired by Instagram camera filters, colors have a faded, almost pastel hue, blacks come short of full depth, and contrast tends to be flat, giving the film an anachronistic or retro quality despite its near future setting. Detail is quite good, especially in close ups, and there’s few, if any, signs of digital compression or processing artifacts.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
Dialogue in the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is consistently crisp, clear and intelligible. Surround channels tend to provide light support for music soundtrack cues, but a couple scenes with environmental noise provide some added depth. LFE is basically non-existent, but bass notes in background music have the requisite depth and fullness.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Special Features Rating: 2.5/5
- The Untitled Rick Howard Project (24:19, HD): The more-artistic-than-most production journal, directed by Lance Bangs, document’s the film’s location shoot, scoring, post-production and premiere.
- Her: Love in the Modern Age (15:10, HD): Directed by Lance Bangs, colleagues and friends of Spike Jonze share their thoughts on love and relationships in the current culture.
- How Do You Share Your Life with Somebody (3:56, HD): Montage of film scenes and behind-the-scenes production footage.
- UltraViolet Digital Copy: Redeem by May 13, 2017.
Warner Home Video delivers a faithful HD presentation for Her, an unequivocally odd but ultimately thoughtful exploration of love and romance in modern society. The special features are pretty limited, but those who appreciated the film during its theatrical run should be pleased with the release overall. Others should probably seek out a rental first, given the film’s premise.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewed By: Cameron Yee
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