Technology and society’s relationship with it has been the focus over many films over the years. In Spike Jonze’s film we see how technological advances leads to an unconventional romance.
In a futuristic Los Angeles Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is lonely and going through a stressful divorce. When he purchases an A.I operating system called Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) the two begins to form an unexpecting relationship.
The world inahbited in Her is very similar to ours but where technology is five minutes into the future. I could believe a lot of the technology we see here being made in the future, if not already being developed. The main focus is on humans relationship with technology, while you would expect all this new tech to be isolating (and some early scenes show how this could be the case) Theodore’s relationship with Samantha opens him up to the world in a way he never did before.
At first I thought that Theodore would come across as a bit creepy and be unable to cope with a real woman with her own thoughts and that’s why he’s in a relationship with an OS. Luckily the film is more complex than that and while Samantha may be an A.I she also comes across as real and complicated just like everyone else.
Phoenix is great in the lead-which is good as he is in practically every scene. And he’s especially good when you think about the fact he is reacting to someone who wouldn’t have been present in the room with him, yet you believe in his bond with Samantha. As someone who is only present through her voice Johansaan is a dominating force and manages not to come across as robotic but still have an otherworldly feeling to her character that marks her out as not human. I also liked Amy Adam and Rooney Mara in supporting roles that add differing views on the central relationship.
The only thing I wasn’t sure of was the ending, not that it was a bad ending but the whole third act seemed a bit random. Hopefully if I watched it again maybe the climax will make more sense.
Rating 4/5 – intelligent, funny and strangely romantic
When shopgirl Therese (Rooney Mara) meets the glamorous Carol (Cate Blanchett) sparks fly between them. But this is New York in the early 1950s and they face many obstacles in their way, not least Carol’s impending divorce from her husband Harge (Kyle Chandler).
I went into this film thinking it would be more similar to other films based on novelist Patricia Highsmith’s thrillers. Carol (based on Highsmith’s book The Price of Salt) is more of a romantic drama, although there is some tension in regards to the secret love between the women, leaving the audience to wonder if they will be discovered and what the consquences would be if they are.
Perhaps as Carol was so hyped up on it’s release, having watched it now I didn’t feel as passionate about the movie as others have. Having said that it’s a fine film with excellent performances by Blanchett and Mara, both deserving of their Oscar noms. Director Todd Haynes is good at highlighting little moments of intamcy like the touching of hands as being significant, and dangerous steps in their relationship.
Rating 3.5/5 – a class act with Blanchett and Mara at their best
I’ve been meaning to write this review up for a while but it’s been a bit of a busy month, so I’ve been a bit slow with updating the reviews section.
Side Effects is Steven Soderbergh’s last film. The story follows Emily (Rooney Mara) a young woman dealing with her husband Martin (Channing Tatum) recently being released from prison for insider trading. Although she is happy he is released she is suffering from depression and unable to cope, so she seeks help from a psychiatrist Jonathan (Jude Law). After consulting with Emily’s former doctor (Catherine Zeta-Jones) Emily is prescribed a new drug Ablixa. Unfortunately Emily experiences side effects from the drugs which have far-reaching consequences for everyone involved.
This is one of those films that are difficult to review without giving away major spoilers. Luckily if you don’t go looking too much for them you should be able to go into Side Effects unaware of the major plot twist and turns. If you do avoid reading any spoilers than Side Effects should be able to enjoy the film as an intelligent medical-drama-thriller. Side Effects also gives us four great performances from its main players. It’s good to see Jude Law proving himself in another strong role after Anna Karenina, it reminds you why he was hyped up all those years ago.
The story is gripping as you follow Emily in her mental descent and when the story shifts to Jonathan’s perspective the story starts to reveal itself even more. The film raises lots of questions about responsibility and blame while questioning the motives to wanting and prescribing certain drugs. There are some good plot twists in the story which don’t undermine the action that has gone before it. In fact it makes you question what you have seen earlier. If this is going to be Soderbergh’s last film at least he leaves us with a film to saviour rather than to dispair.
Rating 4/5-gripping and tense, Soderbergh departs from the film world with an intelligent thriller that boasts an excellent cast and an intense plot. Au revoir Soderbergh!