In what could easily be defined as the movie about the guy who falls in love with his computer, Her instead dives deeply into the modern world of relationships and more importantly, how we interact with other people in the age of growing technology.
Joaquin Phoenix stars as Theodore, a man who has recently separated from his wife and is struggling to come to terms to what his life has now become. Writer/director Spike Jonze breaks away from writing partner Charlie Kaufman with his first film he has solely written and directed by himself.
Jonze clearly gets personal with this romantic drama that examines Theodore’s struggle to return to normalcy and the odd course he takes. Theodore comes across an artificially intelligent operating system (OS have become common in this re-imagined Los Angeles) and is then introduced to Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), his OS.
Samantha is curious. She looks at the world with new eyes and is always questioning the decisions Theodore and the people around him. But that is something Theodore loves about her and something he didn’t see with his ex-wife Catherine (Rooney Mara) who seemed to be isolated from Theodore.
The early scenes of Theodore walking around LA while talking to Samantha are sweet and completely take you away from the fact that she is not physically there. Jonze knows that the only way to engage the audience with this subject is to do that and where Her is strongest is in the conversation that feels so real and improvised by Theodore and Samantha.
But while they feel improvised, they also feel rehearsed and go back to that personal touch Jonze added to the film. While the premise can be seen as outlandish, the high concept film also sees some truth in the way that the world is headed with technology supplementing any real source of communication. In the film, while Theodore has delved more into communication with a computer, the realness of the subjects and the reactions of both him and Samantha make it more than just a man and a computer.
Her looks at each of us personally, as if it was an artificially intelligent OS, and makes us rethink how we connect with people in the modern world. Phoenix and Johansson give incredibly real performances in a thought provoking film that grows with each viewing.
Her is available on DVD, Blu-ray and Redbox.
Zach Dennis is a student at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and is a Journalism and Electronic Media major with a Cinema Studies minor. He is from Chattanooga. Follow him on Twitter @zdennis.