NEW YORK-Joaquin Phoenix knew he had to star in Spike Jonze’s latest film “Her,” an unconventional romance that explores ideas about intimacy, isolation, relationships and technology, because it wasn’t a typical love story. Phoenix’s depressed writer character finds love in the film, set in a futuristic Los Angeles, but the object of his affection isn’t a co-worker or the girl next door. It’s an intuitive, voice-controlled, computer operating system named Samantha.
“I thought it was really interesting and unique, that there was this great emotional center you could grab onto, that it wasn’t too esoteric,” Phoenix told Reuters ahead of the film’s opening in UStheaters on Wednesday. “There are these great big ideas and themes to explore but it felt totally accessible.” Phoenix, a triple Oscar nominee for his roles in “Gladiator,” “The Master” and “Walk The Line,” which also earned him a best actor Golden Globe in 2006, plays Theodore Twombly, a writer for
By day he dictates affectionate letters that are transcribed by a computer into “handwritten” notes for clients to their loved ones. In the evening he plays a large video game alone in his high-rise, sparsely furnished apartment. The National Board of Review named “Her” best picture of 2013, calling it “an outstanding achievement that is sure to become a new classic,” and awarded Jonze its best director award.
Phoenix, 39, nabbed his fourth Golden Globe nomination for his role in “Her,” while the film won Globe nominations for best picture in a comedy or musical and best screenplay. “In a tender about-face from his fearsome performance in ‘The Master,’ Phoenix here is enchantingly open, vulnerable, sweet-natured and yearning for emotional completion,” The Hollywood Reporter said about his performance. The New York Post praised Jonze, who wrote the screenplay and is known for pushing cinematic boundaries since his off-the-wall 1999 film “Being John Malkovich.” “Jonze seems to be heading for a far quirkier ending than the one he actually delivers, but he does tap into the zeitgeist with his unlikely romantic fable,” it said.