Spike Jonze’s solo screenwriting debut centers on the life of Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) and his relationship with Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). Samantha happens to be a futuristic, operating system (think of Apple’s Siri). The movie chronicles Theodore’s life after a failed marriage that has dampened and changed his perception and outlook of life.
Her is a film set in the future. Yet, at no point in the film did I think this was a distant future. Interpersonal relationships in our society continue to deteriorate and disintegrate thanks in large part to our dependence on technology. I am sure you know someone, if not yourself, who is consumed by their cell phone or other device. It is not too far-fetched to think of a world in which humans become so lonely they yearn for attachment from any source, including their technological companion.
Additionally, the film is not a “feel-good story.” There are many parts that are terribly melancholy. In fact, Theodore directs his early android device to play a melancholy song in the beginning of the movie. Jonze does a good job in showcasing the emotional state of our character while saving the viewer from a miserable after-taste. There is a state of melancholy that attempts to engulf the audience’s hearts only to be warded off by the shimmering rays of light exemplified in Theodore’s montages of a happier life with his former love, Catherine (Rooney Mara). The subtle nuances throughout the film only solidify the exemplary product. Personally I appreciate those “touches” some filmmakers place in films. It shows me they really care.
There are some parts of this film that are a bit weird and awkward to watch. After all, Theodore enters into as “normal” a relationship with an operating system as one can get (I’ll let you figure out what I mean by that). Johansson is incredible in her strictly, audio role. Phoenix who I think is one of the most underrated actors of our generation is simply superb.
Although not exactly the same, I sort of compare this film to Lars and the Real Girl (2007), starring Ryan Gosling. Both films share the same weirdness, in that their respective relationships are taboo and out of our norm. Both films also intersperses humor which aids in the fluidity of the film and the character development of the main characters.
Like Lars and the Real Girl, I enjoyed this film. I would suggest you watch it in theaters. It is one of the best films of the year.
MPAA Rating: R (language, sexual content and brief graphic nudity)
Running Time: 125 minutes
My Grade: B
Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate