Watch: Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ and the Physical Act of Loving

Watch: Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ and the Physical Act of Loving

Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ is an entirely physical movie. Much has been made, and perhaps seemingly justifiably, of the inward nature of the love relationship it describes, that between Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore and Scarlett Johansson’s virtual Samantha, and yet the reality is that all we really pay attention to in the story is the action, or the physicality: Theodore running through a crowd, Theodore tripping and falling, Theodore’s human largeness by comparison with Samantha’s smallness or even invisibility. And look at the actors Jonze chose for the parts: Phoenix has been fairly compared to Brando for the degree to which he inscribes his roles on the screen with the power of his gestures, his physique, his face; and surely Johansson owes her allure in equal parts to the mind at work behind her portrayals and the voluptuous presence she brings to them, which she’s able to suggest here with only her voice. Michael Mclennan’s gorgeous, attentive video essay traces movements in this film, namely ascents and descents, as indicators of emotional fluctuation, of growth and change, giving us a window into the film’s quiet, sad beauty. 

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