In a world where we are becoming more and more connected to our computers, Her, despite its science fiction roots, is probably an examination of a future closer than some people realize.
Director Spike Jonze gives us the story of a lonely man, soon to be divorced Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), who upgrades to the latest operating system for his interconnected system of computer, phone, smarthouse environment. Unlike previous versions, this operating system is artificially intelligent, and as strange as it may (or may not) sound, Theodore and Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) begin to fall into a romantic relationship rather quickly. It turns out that this is not all too terribly uncommon, in fact, already becoming mostly socially acceptable.
If you ignore the fact that one of the two is a computer, the relationship between Samantha and Theodore is not unlike some of the best film relationships. Passionate at times, confusing at others, emotional, and touching. Add in the extra layer of science fiction and we’re allowed to explore themes like what love is, what makes a relationship, and what is real in ways that only science fiction can let us. Like the best of Star Trek or The Outer Limits Jonze builds his own realistic world for the purpose of looking at things from an angle that would not otherwise be possible and the results are rewarding, if disturbing.
This is easily one of the best films of the year, if only for the fact that it is more original than most everything else. Yes, similar things have been done before, mostly on television or in obscure films, but it still feels fresh, fully realized, and unlike anything else you saw in 2013. Beyond that, the performances are stellar, especially Johansson who exudes more emotion and presence with just her voice than plenty of actors and actresses are capable of when they are fully on screen. Supporting players, Chris Pratt, Olivia Wilde, Rooney Mara, and Amy Adams all bring their talents to the table as well.
Despite being a fantastic film, I don’t feel like it is one I can recommend to everyone. There are some sequences that range from incredibly awkward and uncomfortable to being truly disturbing. If the thought of phone sex in a film puts you off, best avoid Her. It is a great piece of film, however, with superb writing, a great soundtrack, and fantastic performances all around. Anyone looking for something different and provocative should definitely see it.
Mrs. Hamster says:
“It was highly disturbing. I don’t want to watch phone sex with Siri.”
My rating: Five out of five hats
Her seduces 47 theaters, December 25