Last night the New York Film Festival closed with the well-received film Her. It was a highly anticipated film, and one that nearly stunned us to death. Her is Spike Jonze’s flaw-free heartbreaking romantic dramedy, that introduces a not-so-far-off world that fully embraces the blurring line between technology and human life coexisting with one another.
In it Joaquin Phoenix fantastically captures a writer and newly separated man, who longs for a reliable connection. The tangibility of the relationship he finds with his o.s. voiced by Scarlett Johansson is a revelation we hadn’t seen in cinema until now. In the film Phoenix’s operating system organizes his day to day activities, but also holds a strong bond that quickly becomes one of the most unorthodox but thrilling relationships that’s been exhibited on-screen.
There’s no doubt that Phoenix and Johansson will both be nominated for their terrific performances, but all eyes seem to be on Scarlett Johansson. One can make a terrific argument that Johansson’s stunning vulnerability, and dialing back to infancy-like wonderment about basic every-day experiences could and will earn the actress a nomination. It’s Johansson’s ability to be faceless yet extremely present in the role, while acting as the emotional anchor to the film, that makes her performance truly speciaL
Although Scarlett Johansson’s category is becoming pretty bloated, with other stunning performances (Julia Roberts in August: Osage County, Oprah Winfrey in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, and Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave), Johansson still has a shot at coming out on top if the buzz keeps on rolling for Her.
Scarlett is the essence of Her. She is “Her”. What’s most exciting about anticipating the battle of the Best Supporting Actress race, is that Johansson could very well make Oscar history. If she wins the award for Best Supporting Actress she will be the very first person to win solely for her voice.
What’s most interesting is that Scarlett Johansson wasn’t Spike Jonze’s first pick for the voice of Samantha. That job went to Samantha Morton, who voiced Samantha throughout the shoot to aid Joaquin Phoenix in his performance. At some point after filming wrapped, Jonze decided to bring Johansson in to film over all of the dialogue. It was a bold move, but one that proved to be a smart choice. Without Johansson’s voice for Samantha, we can’t really imagine Her having the same effect.
Her opens in theaters on December 18.