Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, Chris Pratt, Matt Letscher, Portia Doubleday, Laura Kai Chen, Sam Jaeger, Luka Jones, May Lindstrom and the voices of Scarlett Johansson, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Brian Cox and Adam Spiegel (Spike Jonze).
Screenplay by Spike Jonze.
Directed by Spike Jonze.
Distributed by Warner Bros. 119 minutes. Rated R.
Modern romance has become more and more complicated, but this is undoubtedly the first love story between a human being and a computer operating system.
Surprisingly, Her does not treat its story as a comedy of a human in love with an inanimate object – like the fine 2007 comic drama Lars and the Real Girl. No, director Spike Jonze has something much more subversive in mind, which I suppose should not be a big surprise to people who are familiar with Jonze's previous films Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Where the Wild Things Are.
Her takes an unexpectedly serious look at modern love and isolation. It takes on a pretty heavy question, in a world where technology is increasingly central in human lives, is it such a stretch that people could become emotionally attached, even romantically involved, with their machines?
Let's face it, technologically we are probably a lot closer than we might imagine to this kind of thing becoming a reality. Most people have way more Facebook friends than real friends, after all, so is it that huge a leap to think that eventually some people will just subtract other humans from the equation?
But as the old saying goes, just because we can do it, does that mean we should do it? Her does not exactly judge one way or the other on that question, however it takes an interesting look at some of the potential ethical and emotional ramifications of such a coupling.
Her takes place in Los Angeles, at an unspecified time in the not very distant future.
Theodore Twembley (Joaquin Phoenix) is a depressed office worker whose wife left him a year earlier. He works for a website company which specializes in creating "handwritten" notes to loved ones for a fee. Theodore spends his days baring emotions to strangers as though they were from other strangers. Most nights are spent on virtual reality video games or internet porn. He has a gorgeous apartment, some good friends, but is in a major funk.
He is also a tech nerd, so when he hears ago a new revolutionary operating system, he decides to give it a try. OS1 is a new program that learns through experiences and has the potential to learn to think and feel.
When he uploads the system, which for him is named Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), he realizes that he has finally found the perfect woman. She is caring, smart, funny, fully focused on him, and quickly learning more and more of what it is like to be human.
Only problem is she doesn't actually have a physical body.
Still, the more time that he spends with Samantha and the more immersed in his life she becomes, the more that he realizes that he is falling in love with her. And, as she learns about human feelings, she is falling for him as well.
Talk about mixed relationships.
In Her's favor, the film never mocks Theodore for his feelings. While the film is very funny in parts, they do not play it for humor, as most films would do. In fact, as the OS1 becomes more and more mainstream in the story, the people of Los Angeles seem to be quite comfortable with such relationships.
It is in a way a rather tragic situation: a man with great fear of commitment finally committing to a relationship which just by definition cannot physically work out. Jonze does not shy away from the problems but he also does a wonderful job of making it a kind of exciting, intriguing idea.
Her is much deeper and more thoughtful than you would expect from the thumbnail sketch of its plot. It is raucously funny and yet shatteringly tragic. It is a contradiction and yet makes perfect sense.
It is another triumph for Spike Jonze, one of the most eccentric minds in modern film.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2014 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: January 10, 2014.
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