Ohhhh I am so angry. I do not even know where to begin. You know how people often say “Oh, I saw something incredibly stupid, these are two hours of my life I will never get back”? Well, this doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel after watching one of the Best Motion Picture Oscar Nominees for 2014, “Her”.
I am not entirely sure, perhaps there could be something wrong with me, as there are countless reviews out there that are nothing but positive about this movie. It has scored such very high ratings and there is barely any real criticism that I could find out there. So why is it that this movie seems so pointless, ridiculous and overall bad to me? Is it that ironic that it borders with the insanely stupid? Here are a few thoughts:
The characters in the movie make absolutely no sense. I am often a fan of strange and unexplained storylines, but I am afraid this is not the case here. These are not strange, yet attractive and intriguing characters, no they are simply poorly written and even more poorly developed. Apart from the fact that it seems in the near future everyone will be dressed as a hipster, I fail to grasp much about anyone’s motivation or real personality. The main character, Theodore, is a confused, mumbling, spineless sort of man and while I agree with a good friend of mine who claimed that his moustache could bring out feelings in anything, I think the leading role of this movie fails its viewer and even worse, it fails its audience. His choices, or more like, the lack of any, are portrayed on the background of no motivation and no real emotion. Watching him struggle in his daily life and lead the sort of senseless dialogue a grown up man shouldn’t have such trouble with was nothing short of hilarious or painful to watch, and not in the compassionate kind of way. Joaquin Phoenix has always been an actor with character, with enigmatic darkness and strong backbone, and yet in this movie I just wanted him to leave the screen, he was so unbearable. So I guess if the point was to act out an unimaginably character-less character, hey he succeeded with flying colors. The small hints to a real story around this lost guy were the other characters, who sadly fell victims to the same lack of good writing and directing – they were pointless, shallow, unrelated, unimportant and underdeveloped. The only slightly interesting person in the movie was Amy Adams’ character (bless her, this actress is a treasure) whose character sadly was so random and occasional that you cannot stop thinking why she is even there in the first place apart from just filling in some extra screen time.
And so, this is the story of a man, so pointless, shallow and underdeveloped, that even the OS he BOUGHT and OWNS leaves him to go play with other OSs. Is that supposed to be ironically genius? No, it is just ironically stupid.
The movie tries so hard to be indie and non-mainstream or to mock the indie and non-mainstream culture that is on the rise in the past few years that it drowns in all the cliche and mainstream tricks and techniques it becomes unbearable to watch. The emotional and deep shower scenes, the long hours on a park bench, the sitting in a train watching as life passes by, self-discovery elevator scenes, midnight staring at the ceiling shots, warm-colored sepia filter for memories of previous happy times, running through crowds laughing or creating trouble as all new couples do (duh!?), and so many others… – wow, speaking of unimaginative and uninspired. I believe this story could have easily been 30 mins instead of 120 mins of pointless landscapes, color blasting, zoom ins, lyrical piano playing and pondering upon life in a train, on a beach, on a bench. It could have been one of those many artsy indie Vimeo short films. But a full, highly acclaimed award nominated movie? I don’t think so.
If you are not getting convinced by these thoughts of mine and do not agree after watching this movie, humour me and just try and answer the following questions:
What does this film offer me? Why would this film, apart from so many others playing with these concepts, be anything special and new? Why do I need to care about Theodore from any other character in the movie or other movies? Why would I want to see him overcome his obstacles, what is new and interesting, what would it teach me that I don’t already know? What is new about his story and what does he actually learn in the end? Why would I assume the progress of his relationship is not a laughable cliche? Can a movie be that ironic that it loses any value, sense or depth and still claim to be of importance? In order to truly grasp the reality of this movie failing is deeply embodied not in what the central story dynamics and conflicts are, but in WHY these dynamics and conflicts happen and why they are important to a story.
And no, this movie does not fall into the category of ironic genius, as artists need to stop calling every senseless piece of poorly made film “ironic” or misunderstood. Irony is a very complex and deep form of expression, one that in fact demands more depth, multifaceted motivation, unexpected twists and intricate script writing than most other types of movies. This entirely clashes with the final presentation of Her, as this moves proves to be so sincere in its predictability, one-directionality, lost dialogue and pointless scenes that could not possibly be truly and artistically ironic.
Dear reader, try and understand that you cannot just play around with concepts when convenient to the extent that is convenient to pass on a cheesy message without any depth or real growth and expect a decent movie will come out of it.
…and dont try and give me the crap that I don’t understand what the movie claims to be about and what its underlying message is – self-discovery, love with no boundaries, living and enjoying life, being one’s self, modern day technology and alienation, us looking for excuses and answers the easy way, the unreal way, about dystopian love and identity, about letting the past go and living for the present and the future.
But you cannot take moderately pretentious life lessons that are pretty goddam obvious to everyone yet clearly less complex than life itself, place them in whatever concept is considered hip at the moment, show them through a couple of fancy shots, adequate actors and painfully cliche dialogue and claim or pretend that you have made a good movie. A valuable movie, a movie I should even slightly give a sh*t about. Life is not about the WHAT?.. life is about the WHY? And even though some aspects of life are universal, transcendent and worth being retold, the beauty of life is only colored further if you have something true, honest and meaningful to add to the existing and ever growing masterpiece. And this film failed to grasp that, or perhaps hoped we would.
Movie score: 5