Her is set in a not to distant future Los Angeles, making the story feel a bit close to our own reality. The central character the story is Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Pheonix), a reclusive man who makes his living writing other people's personal letters. Morning the end of his marriage, he purchases a new Operating System -OS1 (Voiced by Scarlett Johanssen) which promises to be an intuitive entity in its own right, individual to each user. Almost immediately after opening the system, it, he is delighted to meet "Samantha," OS1's voice, who is able to develop and adapt to the Theodore's interests and needs. As 'Her' develops in her abilities and knowledge, the friendship between Theodore and Samantha deepens into an eventual love for each other.
I will be honest, anything that gets the tag 'all critics love this film' makes me not want to see it. The intrigue and style of Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) drew me in, but I went with hesitation. Directors like Jonze and Wes Anderson make art films that appeal to the fringe of viewership, but with the Academy Award buzz, this film will strengthen Jonze's career. In the tradition of artificial intelligence films, AI, I, Robot, Blade Runner and Bicentennial Man, it does leave the viewer a quandary of ideas about humanity and love.
In a rare moment of human contact, Theodore goes on a date (Olivia Wilde - which shows this is fantasy.) At the conclusion of the date, she says to Theodore, 'You are creepy.'
After watching this film, that is how I would comment on leave the viewing experience, 'this is creepy. ' Fascinating, but discomforting.
Will this appeal the broader movie going public? Not really, but it is new venture in sci-fi films. A sci-fi cyber romance.
Storyline: 5 stars
The writing was brilliant. As a romantic film (excluding the excessive language), the dialogue between the two central characters was poetic and beautiful. To a point. Once you put it into the context that this is happening between an OS and a person, it gets cringe worthy.
The simultaneous storylines of his relationship with Samantha, his wife (Rooney Mara) and Amy (Amy Adams) were beautifully interwoven to make for a complex film of relationships.
Jonze is a great writer, but twists the reality of the film to keep the viewer noticeably uncomfortable.
Visual Effects: 3.5 stars
The vantage point of Theodore and the surrounding future Los Angeles was mesmerising. The surrounding visuals added to the loneliness and disconnectedness of Theo from the realities around him. Jonze contrasts the life of the city against the stark reality of Theo's lake of engagement with life.
Beautifully shot and takes us into the near future visually.
I hope the high waisted pants do not take off. Nerd chic is not too appealing.
Direction & Acting: 4 stars
Joaquin Pheonix carries the lead role well. With nerd like precision, he keeps the audience captivated. He is believably vulnerable and quietly controlling. Scarlet Johannsen does an amazing voice work to keep the Samantha character accessible and believable.
Rooney Mara was beautifully cast as the anti-Samantha. As the ex-wife role, she conveys the disgust that the audience experiences at the relationship of Theo and Samantha. Also, she helps us to see the foreshadowing of inevitable end. She represents the true human element in the film. All the other characters seem to work in another reality.
Amy Adams and Chris Pratt bring interesting friend support to the film.
Jonze's pacing can be a bit laborious, but managed to move the story along well. He did a brilliant job of keeping the story at a level of discomfort, even with the well written dialogue between the lead characters.
Family component: 0 stars
The film is recommended for film students and adults only. This film will be analysed for years to come in film and psychology course work.
I do not see this being a film that will connect with the general public. Due to sex scenes and language, I would only recommend this film to the most discerning of viewers.
God component: 1 star
To analyse humanity, love, marriage, monogamy and creation, this is an excellent film for theological discussion. It helps to open the discussion for these points, but does not support the biblical precedence for these discussion points.
Overall rating: 2.5 stars
For those interesting in exploring other Spike Jonze films, here is a short list of recommended films:
1. Being John Malcovich
3. Where the Wild Things Are
Written by Russell W Matthews @ Russelling Reviews