HER is a beautiful, yet haunting film about how we use technology in our lives to fill the voids meant for real human interaction. It manages to be simultaneously romantic, tragic and heartbreaking while thought provoking as well. It’s a conventional “Boy meets Girl” love story told in a unique and extremely unconventional way.
It’s the near but recognizable future and Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) writes personal “hand-written” love letters as a profession and he’s a master at it. Unfortunately his love life is in shambles. His wife Catherine (Rooney Mara), who he still loves, has filed for divorce and prospects look thin for Theodore’s happiness. That all changes when he buys a new operating system for his computer. But this isn’t just any upgrade, OS1 is a sentient artificial intelligence tailor made for the user that grows exponentially as it experiences the world.
Voiced by Scarlett Johansson, Samantha is everything Theodore needs in his life. Not only does she add stability and organization, but she is also a true friend. Both Theodore and Samantha crave companionship and even though she lacks a body, she is as real to him as any woman of flesh and blood. But this invites complications especially when they take their relationship to a new level. Some are obvious, others, concocted by the genius mind of writer/director Spike Jonze, have got to be seen to be believed.
HER is a wonder to behold in so many ways. The cast is uniformly excellent. Phoenix is such a versatile performer and he instills Theodore with a quite dignity that keeps the film from becoming corny or cheesy. The supporting cast includes uncharacteristic roles for Amy Adams, Rooney Mara and Olivia Wilde. But it’s Johansson’s voice-only performance that is the true marvel of the film. If ever an Actor should be nominated for a voice only role, it should be her. You can’t help but fall in love with Samantha as well as feel her pain and anguish as she learns the harsh realities of human emotional and physical limitations.
I also want to point out the technical aspects of HER, which includes breath taking cinematography, gorgeous production design and a perfect musical score by the band Arcade Fire.
Finally a film that is deserving of the buzz it’s getting. The field is getting crowded this Oscar season and HER will be amongst those MUST SEE MOVIES richly deserving of high praise.