I honestly have so many places I can go with this
review post, so pardon me in advance if it comes off as a shambolic rambling …
Simply stated, I LOVED this movie. Her is proof positive that at their best, trailers do not a movie make …
While I was intrigued by the premise based on the trailer, it did not do the film justice in presenting the amount of humor and levity that this interesting story – that of the romantic relationship between a milquetoast (Joaquin Phoenix) and his software operating system (voiced perfectly by Scarlett Johansson).
Our Mitty-esque hero, Theodore Twombly (Phoenix, in an understated, moving performance) lives in a near futuristic Los Angeles, where he works at a company that writes custom letters for its clientele. After enduring a recent breakup with wife Catherine (Rooney Mara), he goes about his days in a very non-descript manner, that is until he purchases and installs his new, highly advanced and adaptable operating system, in the voice of Samantha (Johannson).
What starts off as give and take, with Samantha’s main directive being the managing of life, develops into something more intense and seemingly more enduring.
In the process, the film attempts to challenge our very deeply held perceptions of love and what it means to love and be loved. The emotional consequences (as many are well aware) can be euphoric and devastating, regardless of with whom (or in this case) what we form that unrelenting attachment to. It is a wonderful thought-provoking presentation that stays with you long after the credits roll and you leave the theater.
While Phoenix and Johannson are the heart of Her, there are appearances by the likes of Amy Adams, Olivia Wilde (among others).
I would never consider myself either an aficionado or follower of the films of Spike Jonze (having only seen Being John Malkovich), but this is clearly the work of a really good director. This definitely merits a revisit of his oeuvre.
Ironically as I worked on the initial draft for this piece, I was reminded of the Twilight Zone episode Lonely featuring Jack Warden. In this, Warden’s character is placed on a prison desert planet, his only companion that of a female robot companion. Over time he comes to form an unbreakable attachment with the artificially intelligent being. While the robot in this case is believable, in so much as it is a physical manifestation, the idea of love and what it means is a subject of debate here as well.
There are moments you actually forget that Samantha is not a sentient being, but a machine programmed to be as close to human as possible. The film is a perfect balance of dramatic tension and levity.
I would say this was quite possibly the best film I saw last year.