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Newly separated from his wife Catherine, Theodore Twombly works for a company that composes love letters for those who lack the creativity to pen their own. Growing more and more isolated from the outside world, his curiosity is piqued by a campaign advertising the latest artificially intelligent operating system. When he is first introduced to his new technological assistant Samantha, he is surprised by her ever-growing emotionality, and her fresh way of looking at the world. As time passes, Theodore finds himself connecting with Samantha in ways he could never have imagined....
For more about Her and the Her Blu-ray release, see Her Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on May 13, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, Sam Jaeger, Scarlett Johansson
Director: Spike Jonze
» See full cast & crew
Her Blu-ray Review
What does love look like in the modern world?
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, May 13, 2014
For a film that so deftly and frequently defies expectation, Her remains a heartaching, sweetly subdued work of pure science fiction that slowly but steadily distances itself from the trappings of its premise in favor of a richer, more thoughtful examination of love, loneliness, sentience and technological codependency. Nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, dark horse Spike Jonze's beautifully crafted, convention-skewing drama earned the Being John Malkovich filmmaker a much-deserved Oscar for Best Original Screenplay yet was largely overshadowed by a lineup of splashier, more traditionally compelling frontrunners. There's nothing splashy or traditional about Her, though. An abstract, quasi-futuristic dual character study isn't the stuff of blockbusters or red carpet darlings, much less a film subject to the lowest common genre denominator. Jonze revels in subtlety and minimalism to incredibly affecting ends, forging a timely, all-too-convincing near-future within a story entrenched in human yearning and soulful longing. It's not only one of the best films of 2013, it's one of the finest pieces of science fiction to come along in years.
Set in Los Angeles, slightly in the future, the film follows Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a reserved, inwardly compounded man who makes his living writing touching, personal letters for other people. Heartbroken after the end of a long relationship, he becomes intrigued with a new, advanced operating system, which promises to be an intuitive entity in its own right, individual to each user. Upon initiating it, he is delighted to meet "Samantha" (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), a bright, female OS who is insightful, sensitive and funny. As her needs and desires grow in tandem with his own, their friendship deepens into an eventual love for each other.
Phoenix and Johansson deliver nothing short of screen magic, infusing a sense of deep, budding love into the aptly billed "Spike Jonze Love Story." No small feat considering Johansson has little more to work with than her voice. Her Samantha may not have a physical form, but her presence is so palpable and real that she all but materializes on screen; a trick of the mind that stands as a testament to just how convincing her OS is to both Theodore and the audience. But Her isn't just Samantha's show, much as she steals it. Every one of Theodore's relationships is utterly captivating; each one a perfect mix of screenwriting excellence and performance prowess. Enormous credit is due Phoenix, of course, who so grounds his lovelorn writer in humble, introverted eccentricity that it's next to impossible to wish him anything but happiness. But his co-stars are terrific. His deteriorating marriage to Rooney Mara's Catherine is heart-wrenching in its at-times brutal frankness and unflinching honesty, and Mara is outstanding in her very limited screentime. Jonze never assigns blame or dabbles in convention, yet never shies away from the pain of their devastating divorce. Amy Adams, meanwhile, plays Theodore's neighbor and confidant with such modest, soft-spoken ease that her insecurity and uncertainty resonates as poignantly as Samantha's becoming.
More interesting perhaps is the structure of the film. Where other filmmakers would roll credits, Jonze chooses to press on and test the limits of Theodore's newfound love. Conflict and complications mount as Samantha's needs grow beyond the bounds of human relationships, and Jonze's question -- What does love look like in the modern world? -- is rephrased and repurposed again and again. The answers he offers, though, offer insight rather than explanation. Theodore isn't able to predict or quantify love any more than Samantha is able to anticipate or encompass it. Even her love is a question mark. Does it spring from complex programming? A machine's delusion? Theodore's desires and needs brought to life by a series of algorithms? Or is it true sentience? Is Samantha a product of nature or nurture, or something else entirely? Is Theodore beholden to chemical impulses, personality pitfalls and circumstances beyond his comprehension? Is he falling in love with Samantha? Or does she merely represent a safety net he isn't guaranteed elsewhere? Is he in control of his own emotions? Or a victim of state of the art technology? Is anyone in control? Or are we all products of programming? These are the questions Jonze explores, and explores with such fascinating simplicity; confounding, unsolvable mysteries he doesn't attempt to address with anything other than truth, nebulous though it may be. And like all great cinema, Her rings profoundly true. Can a filmmaker, cast or Best Picture nominee be given any higher praise?
Her Blu-ray, Video Quality
Cast in muted tunes and maddeningly neutral beiges, Spike Jonze's futurescape is all at once disarmingly striking and unremarkable, allowing Theodore's relationships to be the sole sources of color and vibrancy in a world devoid of clear-cut intimacy. Jonze and cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema (Let the Right One In, Christopher Nolan's Interstellar) almost completely gut the image of primary potency (save two key scenes in which Phoenix dons bright yellow) and the result is as quietly effective as the film. Warner's 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer doesn't deviate from the filmmakers' intentions in the slightest, providing a flawless presentation free from any notable issues. A hint of noise invades a handful of shots, yes, but it's inherent to the source, nothing more. Contrast and black levels are dusty but satisfying -- again, as intended -- and detail is exceptional, with beautifully refined textures, lovely close-ups and clean, natural edge definition. Oranges and sepia-tinted hues are as perfectly saturated as Hoytema's desaturated skintones too, and there isn't any significant artifacting, banding or aliasing to get in the way of the film's impeccable encode.
Her Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Her is by no means an aggressive film and its sound design and subsequent DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track follow suit. However, there's a ambient confidence and atmospheric poise here that subverts the hushed nature of the mix, creating an engrossing, enveloping soundfield that brings Jonze's docile future to immersive life. Dialogue is intelligible and masterfully prioritized throughout, with every late-night whisper between Theodore and Samantha receiving as much care and emphasis as the angry barbs exchanged between divorcees or blind dates. LFE output and rear speaker activity is restrained but just as meticulously crafted, with understated but excellent dynamics, subdued but convincing directionality, and wonderfully transparent pans. Arcade Fire's score also plays a crucial role in the soundscape. Never too assertive, never too shy, it's full and evocative, adding a sometimes playful, sometimes soulful, always seasoned touch to the mix not often found in romantic dramas.
Her Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Her Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
"Sometimes I think I have felt everything I'm ever gonna feel. And from here on out, I'm not gonna feel anything new. Just lesser versions of what I've already felt."
Her brings with it a flood of seemingly disparate emotions: joy, grief, elation, sadness, celebration and mourning. And yet it delivers an experience so startlingly honest, moving and relevant that declaring it a masterpiece wouldn't be hyperbolic in the least. Phoenix, Adams and Johansson are magnificent, capturing the most poignant beats of human relationships with a deceptive effortlessness that's disarming and endearing. Then there's Jonze's script and direction, which match his cast's brilliance with an ease, power and command of the screen all his own. Together with Hoytema's cinematography and Arcade Fire's score, it's a stunning achievement in romantic minimalism and exceedingly refined genre nuance. And Warner's Blu-ray release doesn't disappoint. With a near-perfect AV presentation, Her stands proudly alongside other 2013 Best Picture nominees as a must-have Blu-ray release.
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Her Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: May 13-20 - May 11, 2014
For the week of May 13th, Warner Home Entertainment is releasing Spike Jonze's digital romance Her on Blu-ray. Other Tuesday titles include Lionsgate's Season One package for the Netflix original Orange Is the New Black and the final season of the HBO comedy Eastbound ...
• Her (2013) Blu-ray - Exclusive Giveaway - May 7, 2014
Blu-ray.com and Warner Bros. Home Video are offering three members the opportunity to win a copy of writer/director Spike Jonze's award-winning Her, which stars Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Chris Pratt, Olivia Wilde and the voice of Scarlett Johansson. ...
• Her Blu-ray - March 21, 2014
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has announced the Blu-ray release of writer/director Spike Jonze's award-winning Her, which stars Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Chris Pratt, Olivia Wilde and the voice of Scarlett Johansson. The romantic science fiction ...
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