Spike Jonze really knows how to operate a love story.
Her is a film that takes place in a not so distant future where operating systems have personalities and communicate with humans. The film follows Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a writer at a dot com storefront that writes handwritten letters to loved ones. Theodore just recently got out of a long term relationship with Catherine (Rooney Mara) and has been struggling to connect with someone ever since. After hearing about this new operating system named Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), Theodore decides to try it out and something unexpected begins to unfold.
Over the past few years, I have noticed that people have constantly become addicted to their electronic devices. Just think about it, what do you leave at home more often your wallet or your cell phone? I can tell you personally that over the past couple of years, I have left home without my wallet but I always remember my cellphone. I think that tells you something about the direction that our society is heading in. Nowadays, whereever you go someone is on a cell phone, tablet, or some sort of electronic device. I watch couples at restaurants, who are both on their cell phones, rather than talking to one another. This is why I loved Her so much because it showcases just how much electronic devices our a part of our daily lives.
Her as a film serves as a social commentary to a world where we can barely connect with one another but instead rely on talking to others through video games, cell phones, and operating systems. This idea of technology taking over for human to human interaction has now become a reality. Theodore on the surface seems like just your normal everyday guy, but when he begins talking to Samantha, you being to see how much more isolated as human being he becomes. He is constantly relying on this operation system to get him through the day and within weeks becomes dependent on it just like one does with another person in a relationship.
What makes Her so wonderful is the fact that for majority of this film, you are watching Theodore talk to a a cell phone with just a voice on the other end. You aren’t watching anything that is about special effects but rather just a guy starting a relationship with a mysterious voice. Her has elements that range from being downright heartbreaking to just plain odd. The concept nonetheless is fascinating and the performance by Phoenix is utterly brilliant. I think the conversations that Theodore and Samantha have with one another are so incredibly deep and personal that you as an audience member forget that Samantha isn’t real. You hear the voice and know its a female so as the film continues on, you can’t help fall in love with her.
The flow of the film pretty much takes you through a typical love story just told through a completely unique perspective. We have the guy who is down on his luck. He tries to date but he can’t stop talking about his ex. He doesn’t know what to do and therefore tries something new and it works. At first things are going great but then reality sets in. The reality here, however, goes much deeper than a normal guy falling in love. The involvement with Samantha is a reality check to who Theodore is as an individual and how he has never truly tried to move on from his past. Its an incredible journey and one that those who have constantly grew up with technology will appreciate much more than those who have adapted to technology over the years.
I can’t believe that I am saying this but I honestly would nominate and vote for Scarlett Johansson as best actress for her voice in this film. I think there is just something about the way that Spike Jonze captured the relationship between Johansson and Phoenix that just feels real and emotional. It is so strange to say that but its 100% true. There is one moment in the film with Samantha and Theodore have sex and that scene is erotic even though nothing is on screen and all you hear is voices. Yep, you read that right, there is a sex scene where the film goes black and all you hear are voices leaving it up to the audiences imagination to dictate what is happening. Its pretty incredible.
Besides the two leads, the supporting cast is pretty incredible as well especially Amy Adams as Theodore’s only friend Amy and Rooney Mara as Theo’s ex Catherine. I think both these characters played a great deal of significance to the story, although their roles would be views by many as very minor. I thought the scene in which Catherine and Theodore had lunch together was completely heartbreaking while being 100% honest. It is at this point in the film where the film digs deeper into all the layers that are in a relationship. As for Amy Adams, I just feel like she was the good best friend character and the emotional support that Theodore needed to get him through this film.
All in all, I have to say that I truly loved Her and found the film to be a breathe of fresh air to the whole love story genre. It is something that not only showcases how engrained we are becoming with technology, but also showcases how friendships and relationships can really impact our lives and control who we are. It is a brilliant film by a truly talented director/writer. I cannot recommend this film enough and can’t wait to see it again when it opens again in wide release in January of 2014.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Her is a 9.5 out of 10.