The futuristic love story; what does it look like? In Her, this question is explored in a beautifully poetic and touching manner. A Spike Jonze directed picture, this undoubtedly has all the best of what he has to offer. The humor is abundant and meaningful, and the sad moments are heartbreaking and confusing, as they would be in such a unique situation. I adore this movie; I love the odd and inimitable love story between a man and something not quite mortal and yet shows all the traits of a human being with the exception of one detail. This film really explores happiness and what the effort taken to reach that bliss truly means. Does it matter why someone is happy? Shouldn’t the focus be about the joy of contentment rather than the why? In Her, this is looked at and focused on in great detail.
Set in the future, technology is such an important aspect of the story but at the same time takes a backseat to a man and his new found and much unexpected love. If it wasn’t for technology this love story wouldn’t have happened, but as their connection becomes more palpable with every new word exchanged, the tech of it all seems to fade away and that is the true genius of this movie. Much like the main character needing to be convinced that what is happening is okay, the audience must be convinced of its believability. Could a man fall for an operating system, A.I.? This story has me believing that it is possible.
Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a lonely shell of a man still heartbroken from his wife’s departure and request for a divorce. Theodore loves her deeply and the thought of losing her is too immense to fathom; even though he hasn’t been with her in over a year. The small, false hope of them getting back together is eating him alive. He is in a mindset of being with someone so when anyone tries to get close he eventually pushes away. Then, one day as he walks to work he spots an advertisement for something called O.S. which stands for Operating System. It is an artificially intelligent companion that helps people deal with life whether it’s organizing email or getting them to go on a much needed date. Lonely, with nothing to lose, Theodore gives it a try and is introduced to Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), his O.S. What starts out as the usual help with daily tasks, Samantha begins to take a much bigger part in Theodore’s life. She gives him advice on his deteriorated marriage, helps him get a date, and helps him reconnect with himself. Through his relationship with this computer program, he rekindles his fascination with people and connection and life itself. Once dwelling in his own misery, he now takes on the world with an open heart and a smile on his face, and it’s all because of her, Samantha. Questions inevitably arise when he starts to look too closely at their relationship; he loves her, but he doesn’t understand that love and what it really means.
Yes, this is a love story but its form is so unique and wonderfully fresh that it never becomes stagnant or complacent. It is also a commentary on modern and future dependency with technology and what it could mean to us all. How much is too much? It explores the line and how invisible that line can end up as tech becomes more advanced and more human like. With such an unusual premise, a great cast must be brought in to, as I said previously, make the audience believe what they are seeing. Joaquin Phoenix leads a stellar cast in another Oscar worthy performance. Alongside him is Amy Adams as Amy, the loving, friendly neighbor who helps guide him and also looks for advice from him as well. In smaller roles, Chris Pratt is wonderful, Olivia Wilde is beautiful and charismatic as always, and Rooney Mara stars as Phoenix’s estranged wife who loves him but never could get through to him like Samantha has done. Samantha, voiced by the lovely Scarlett Johansson never appears physically but in her perfectly written dialogue, she feels very much a part of this world. You never see her, but she is most definitely there and you see her through Phoenix’s performance as he interacts with her.
I wish I could have seen this last year but regardless this is one of the best films of 2013/2014 for most. The direction is slow and focused and sort of sits back and lets the story unfold. Story and character are what’s most important here and Spike Jonze’s direction truly showcases this stunningly. The small nuances of a futuristic world are there but not in your face. It’s used to show that yes, it’s the future and this tech might exist in this time but the focus is elsewhere, on this simple, complicated love story. This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you appreciate a great story, vivid characters, wonderful performances and yes, a love story, then definitely check out Her.
Rated R For: language, sexual content and brief graphic nudity
Run Time: 126 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Chris Pratt, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde
Directed By: Spike Jonze
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4.5/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 4
OVERALL: 4.5 Nerdskulls
Check out the trailer below:
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