Her is a funny, charming, sad and ultimately scary look into the possible future of interaction between humans and technology.
Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a love-letter writer, has recently broken up with the love of his life (and wife) Catherine (Rooney Mara). After struggling to get back into dating, Theodore forms an emotional and later romantic connection to a new operating system, Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). The new operating system is a computer program that can organise your life and get to know you better the more you interact with it. The ‘OS’ can nearly replace having to connect with anyone on a face-to-face basis.
Her presents a near-future society in which people have their heads down in their mobile devices, or on their ear-pieces, talking to their computers. The world in Her is not too far off from our own current world – which is the scary part. The film satirises our love for technology, taking it to the next level where people can actually fall in love and have deep and meaningful relationships with their technology devices. Whilst we are not there yet in the real world, Her presents a logical idea into the advancement of artificial intelligence programs that may be available to consumers in the future.
The film is charming, with an extremely likeable character in Theodore. We connect with the character as he goes through the pains in the aftermath of his break-up, whilst eventually falling for his computer Samantha. It’s funny at first but becomes sad later when we realise just how abnormal a relationship such as that can manifest. It also raises the question of, in this modern age, what interaction means between people on the whole. Is traditional face-to-face interaction important anymore? Are there any real problems with having a relationship with technology as long as you’re happy? The way things are going and the situation the film presents, the answer to those questions would be a resounding no.
Her’s cast members all provide top-grade performances. Joaquin Phoenix turns in some of his best work to date and Amy Adams is once again very solid in her role, like all her roles so far. Scarlett Johansson’s presence in the film will make you believe that a man can, in fact, fall in love with a voice.
The film is visually stunning. The use of a specific colour palette of pink, orange and blue hues are very appealing to the eye and consistently work well with the overall tone of the film. The entire production values, including costume and set design, have been thought out exceptionally well and no stone is left unturned in that department. The film’s score is also perfectly married to the look of the film, helping along with audience engagement.
Director Spike Jonze has nailed it with Her. He brings us a heartwarming love story with the underlying terror of where we might find ourselves in the future. He also successfully manages to appeal to our emotional side, making us want the best outcome for Theodore and also by making us feel like we need to shout out advice to him throughout the film and hope he’ll listen.
Amy Adams said writer/director Spike Jonze would essentially lock her and Joaquin Phoenix in a room together for an hour or two every other day, and make them talk to each other. Jonze did this so that the actors could get to know each other better. Adams credits this for her and Phoenix’s close friendship.