‘Her’ review: Something about ‘Her’

Joshua Picazo, TSV Staff Writer

In the era of quirky romantic comedies, Spike Jonze’s Her manages to separate itself apart from the rest of its kind. It is a story that blends science fiction with romance perfectly. It also manages to take a film that has a unique, peculiar plot and makes it relatable to viewers, thanks in large part to it’s delightful cast.

The lead character Theodore Twombly, played by the talented Joaquin Phoenix, is a ghost writer of personal letters, mainly love letters, who is reluctantly getting divorced from his wife, played by Rooney Mara. Feeling lonely and without a sense of direction in his life, he purchases a talking computer operating system which has all the features of a human mind without, of course, the body. Think of an advanced Siri. This is in many ways a study of humanities need for interaction, with a tremendous twist. It is reminiscent of The Twilight Zone episode “The Lonely “, which told the story of a prisoner sentenced to life alone on an asteroid. Like Theodore, he receives a female robot who he soon convinces himself is real and develops an emotional attachment to it.

In the style of The Twilight Zone writer Rod Serling, Jonze, who is also making his screenplay debut, adds many layers to his characters. Even the operating system has a complex personality as she is, in many ways, a mirror of Theodore because she grows from knowing him and the experiences they share. It is obvious Theodore wants to be with someone but, for many reasons, he has difficulties. A bit of psychoanalysis takes place when he first uploads the operating system which touches on why he may struggle to maintain a relationship. His operating system is very caring and made to fulfill his need for friendships and acts as an assistant as well. This leads to Theodore falling in love with his operating system, named Samantha. Theodore’s inability to maintain real human relationships and pending divorce makes his bond with Samantha grow stronger but as you can imagine, with any human-computer relationship, struggles occur quickly.When Samantha attempts to bring in a surrogate to fulfill the sexual part of their relationship, it ultimately leads to drama and Theodore questioning if the operating system can truly match human contact. Without spoiling the climax of the story, this is just a small sample of a large discussion in the film, not only about love but technology’s increasing impact on our daily lives.

The scenery in Her is incredible. There are many shots of Theodore’s apartment view, which covers a great part of the Los Angeles skyline. Perhaps it is a way to convey to the audience how Theodore has gone out of his way, in a very large city, to isolate himself from others. Even in his office, we don’t see him interact with many co-workers outside of his friend Paul. Moreover, Theodore is by all means a well off man, having a house filled with new technology and is a lovely writer, which leads us to believe his troubles with women are brought on by himself. This is particularly emphasized when he goes on a date with an attractive woman. She wants a commitment from Theodore, which scares him away.

The cast is brilliant. Phoenix and Amy Adams have great chemistry in their scenes together which, almost right of the bat, has viewers attached to the characters. It is perhaps Phoenix’s best performance since playing Johnny Cash in the biographical film Walk the Line. Moreover, Chris Pratt, of Parks and Recreation, provides some needed comic relief to an otherwise dark, moody film. Scarlett Johansson, who voices Samantha, does a wonderful job of bringing a sense of caring without ever appearing on screen. The dialogue, which flows smoothly and is realistic, does a great job in letting viewers know exactly how Theodore and Samantha fell in love.

It is a film worth checking out due to its incredibly talented cast, well written dialogue and brilliant scenery. While it may seem a bit too odd to take seriously at first, it ultimately succeeds in getting viewers to care, which any good film should do.