We live in the time of growing technology and with growing technology we’re certain to see something like what is presented in Spike Jonze’s newest film, Her. A film about one lonely man’s growing relationship with an operating system in the not-to-distant future.
Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is coming off a soon-to-be divorced relationship and doesn’t really have the ambition to jump back into the dating scene. Twombly works at a company that specializes in writing letters for other people to loved ones, using his computer of course. When finished writing the letters with his computer, Twombly prints them out in the form of human script – making them appear hand-written. It’s a rather lonely job, but that’s Twombly’s life at the moment. Living vicariously through other people’s emotions is what Theodore does. One day he invests in a new artificial intelligent operating system that syncs to every single device Theodore owns. The OS, which gives herself the name Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), changes Theodore’s life for the better as he quickly develops feelings for his computer.
There are awkward moments in Her but they are genuine awkward moments. Those moments are something you or I would have if, say, we fell in love with the voice coming from our computer. Spike Jonze creates an elaborate sci-fi setting that doesn’t feel so science fiction. The tech that Jonze envisions for his near-future setting plays out like technology that already exists in one shape or another. Meaning it’s not hard for you to think “could this really work?” like most science-fiction films. Joaquin Phoenix is damn near perfect in the role as Twombly – although I do have some reservations about his caterpillar mustache. Meanwhile, Scarlett Johansson’s voice is the real winner in the film. Her voice is soft, yet playful; sexy, yet confined. She’s perfect as a piece of technology. One particular scene where Samantha hires – from the confines of her always connected to the internet atmosphere – a surrogate sex partner for Theodore (since, you know, the two of them can’t have sex). It’s a scene where Phoenix’s acting is so good and Johansson’s voice is so on point, you can actually envision the scenario playing out in real life. Awkward, yet genuine – it’s the theme in Her.
In a film that features no leading actress, supporting actresses Amy Adams and Rooney Mara are a sight for sore eyes. Adams is good in just everything she does, but Mara is the one that really shines in her limited screen time. Olivia Wilde and Chris Pratt turn in welcome performances.
Her was never about just purely romance, it’s about love and how we perceive it. It’s about connecting on an emotional level on a variety of levels. It’s about acceptance. Her is a nearly flawless film that should be seen by all.