Looking toward the future, it seems as if everything we do will be aided by the help of technology and digital personal assistants. We’re on the right track as it stands, but do we really want that? I’m not saying that we’ll all get large and rely on technology like people did in WALL-E, but I think that human-to-human interaction will start to dwindle over time. This will change going out with friends, day-to-day conversations, and even dating. What if, however, you could take your significant other with you at all times? Better yet, what if you already had the technology to do so? I guess, if you like the sound of that, you might want to consider dating your operating system…
In the near future, every person carries around an earpiece that gives them all the information they need. People carry a display card that shows video, images, websites, etc. Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) works as a letter writer, which means he’s very skilled with his words and he gets paid to write love/birthday/anniversary letters for paying customers. Recently separated from his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara), Theodore lives alone and lives an anti-social life that’s filled with video games and self-deprecation. Just when he was really starting to feel isolated, Theodore discovers a new operating system that’s unlike anything that the world has seen before. Dubbed OS1, the new system thinks for itself and is able to learn rapidly and hold conversations with the user. After answering a few questions, everything is set up and Theodore meets his new friend.
Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), as she prefers to be called, is perky and fun right off the bat. Her ability to understand sarcasm, humor, and even quirky phrases is bewildering to Theodore. Little by little, she begins to become an integral part in his life and the two go back-and-forth with witty and flirtatious remarks. As the two grow closer, something strange and strangely unique begins to occur. Theodore and Samantha begin developing feelings for one another and their simple flirting escalates into something much more sexual. As strange as their relationship is, Theodore is finally feeling happy again and doesn’t really care what people think. He has the support of his best friend Amy (Amy Adams) and he has Samantha’s love. As the relationship grows, like most, conflict arises and the two will have to weather the storm if they want to keep on smoothly sailing.
Her is something else. You’ve never seen a film like this before and it’s an experience that wont be fleeting from your mind anytime soon. The premise of this film is what first got me hooked and in today’s film realm of remakes, reboots, and sequels, something fresh has been desperately needed. Although it’s an unorthodox tale of love, there’s something charming about seeing a man fall in love with his computer. There are dozens of social messages within this film that reflect where out society is headed and the film helps you take a step back and reflect on your own life, as well as Theodore’s. It can get uncomfortable at times, but I think that stems from human’s reluctance to be as open about their own lives as the character in this film are. I’ve had the privilege of seeing this film twice now and I can’t wait to return to the theater to see it again, because there’s nothing quite like it.
As Theodore, Joaquin Phoenix proves yet again, that he is one of the finest working actors in the business. After delivering perhaps his best performance in 2012’s The Master, Phoenix takes on a completely polar persona and sells the character with such admirable ease. The emotion in his eyes and his soft voice is astounding and he never wavers throughout the film. As he becomes more invested in Samantha, he becomes vulnerable, yet also extremely happy. No other person could make talking and talking sexually with a computer as convincing as he did. He makes a complete fool of himself in the name of love and dedication. In the end, Theodore wants to be happy and if he can find that with a computer, that’s great for him. Despite the oddness of the relationship, I was rooting for him the whole way and to see him smile when he talks to Samantha, well, it’ll warm your heart. His words and his tears that he uses to express how he feels are simply unparalleled to anything that I’ve seen this year. This performance isn’t Oscar bait, but it is certainly deserving of all the praise that it’s going to receive.
While it took an effort to make us believe that Phoenix was actually in love with a computer, the greatest effort in the film comes from the lovely, Scarlett Johansson. This movie would be incomplete without her perfect voice work. As Samantha, we only hear Johansson’s voice and the visual depiction of what she’d look like is up to Theodore and the audience. She manages to emote and convey what she’s feeling with her voice alone, which I think makes her deserving of a nomination. She’s sweet, funny, caring, confused, loving, and grows smarter with every day. Samantha is so much fun to listen to as she describes how she sees the world and it’s hard not to find something in your heart for her. It’s crazy to think that a voice can connect with you on an emotional level and match the performance of an actual person. Scarlett Johansson taps into something genuine with this performance and she is absolutely marvelous.
Director Spike Jonze has never been your average director. I mean, his previous films that include Being John Malkovich, Where The Wild Things Are, and Adaptation. He has a flair for the unusual and that usually works in favor of his quirky films. With Her, Jonze has struck gold again and has written and directed what may be the best film of the year. His vision is so unlike any other director currently working and he takes a weird idea and manages to turn it into something beautiful and poetic. If you think about it, a relationship between a man and his computer sounds very outputting. When you see this film, you’ll look back on how naive you were, as you just witnessed one of the most tender and realistic depictions of love that you’ve ever seen in a movie. Love knows no boundaries and Jonze displays this concept in its entirety. Once you realize just how human and relatable these characters are, it doesn’t matter that one of them is a computer. You fall in love with their love and you can’t help but enjoy yourself.
Mixed in with the romance and comedy of the film, are many social undertones that completely define the world we live in. As mentioned earlier, we live in a world where we rely on technology for most everything in our lives. In Jonze’s world, technology rules our lives and is present with us wherever we go. People don’t interact with one another because they have everything they need right in front of them. In this new world, people isolate themselves and human-to-human contact is scarce. Men and women have sexual encounters over the phone because they’re lonely and because it’s convenient to their lazy nature. With this state of living, it’s not hard to fathom that a lonely introvert would find love with something that’s always with him and their when he needs it. It’s odd because, as cool as a lot of the technology is in the film, I don’t think that I’d like to live in a world where we are too lazy to go out with friends and have actual conversations. This film addresses many current world issues and they’re a nice balance to the unconventional love happening behind the scenes.
Not since 2010’s mind-bending Inception, have I been this blown away by an original script. I loved every single moment of this film, including the awkward sexual scenes that slowly got less awkward as the characters got more comfortable. The acting is what ascends this film to the Top 2 films of this year, but they wouldn’t have done such a great job without fantastic writing and directing. It took the best work from everyone to pull this film off and what we get in return, is a film that’s better than we ever could have imagined. There’s not a dull moment in the film and it’s scary how quickly you’ll be getting attached to the characters and rooting for their love. This is going to be the kind of game-changing film that goes down in history and is loved for many, many years to come. I can’t express how perfect this film is, so you’ll just have to go see it to understand my predicament. If ever there was a time to take my word and go with it, it’s now.