I’ll have to admit that my interest level in Her was never quite high enough that I planned to go see it in theaters. Then there was the 93 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the praise and suggestions from friends, and an Oscar nomination for best picture. Well, after just a moment or two of consideration, I decided it was time to give the new film from Spike Jonze a chance. But a man falling in love with a computer…this couldn’t be that good…right?
Set in future day Los Angeles, the first thing this movie impressed me with was its visualization of how the world will look and how we as people will interact – or, cease to interact. It’s not a sci-fi picture, but the view of everything, from a hotel, to a train, to a phone booth, showed just how much technology has changed the look and feel of society. Then there’s the continuing disconnect of personal relationships among us as humans. Everyone is attached to their phones and devices on a seemingly 24/7 basis, which isn’t exactly a stretch to believe if you look at how we treat iPhones today.
Joaquin Phoenix plays a recently divorced, very melancholy man, whose job is to write personal love letters for people so they don’t have to put in that effort (again, this future is quite impersonal). He does a truly fine job at showing the heartbreak of divorce, the strain of emptiness, and loner mentality. But after purchasing the OS 1, the new operating system that’s more than just a computer program, everything is changed. The OS 1, voiced by Scarlett Johansson, feels and acts like a real person. Throughout the film, we witness Phoenix’s character go through the ups and downs of a real relationship with this OS 1 – or, Samantha. It begs certain questions: is what they have a real relationship? Is this a real and acceptable form of love? These topics, of which I’ve never seen put on film before, are touched on quite beautifully at times by Jonze and crew.
I gave praise to Joaquin Phoenix, as a man who literally falls deeply in love with a computer operating system, but I must also give a lot of credit to Amy Adams, who plays his neighbor. None of these roles are easy, and she gives a great performance of a wife at wit’s end, struggling to balance her sanity, love life, and career. It’s not surprising that the acting roles in a Spike Jonze film are tremendous, as we’ve seen a history of this is his previous efforts.
Were there a few moments of awkwardness, watching a man fall quite in love with an operating system? Sure. Did the last third of the movie drag on too much? Yes it did. But there was such a surprising amount of tender, emotional scenes, plenty of laugh out loud moments, and a truly bittersweet and fantastic ending as well. If you couple all of that with the great acting jobs, I can’t argue that Her was a success, that I never would have expected.
HER: (out of 4)