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Her: Spike Jonze's Authentic Vision of The Future (Film Review)

a Spike Jonze love story.
Spike Jonze



Synopsis: "Set in the Los Angeles of the slight future, “Her” follows Theodore Twombly, a complex, soulful man who makes his living writing touching, personal letters for other people. Heartbroken after the end of a long relationship, he becomes intrigued with a new, advanced operating system, which promises to be an intuitive entity in its own right, individual to each user. Upon initiating it, he is delighted to meet “Samantha,” a bright, female voice, who is insightful, sensitive and surprisingly funny. As her needs and desires grow, in tandem with his own, their friendship deepens into an eventual love for each other." (

Director: Spike Jonze

Writer: Spike Jonze

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara and Chris Pratt.

Runtime: 2hr 6min

Rated R: language, sexual content and brief graphic nudity.

Nominated for 5 Oscars.

Winner of the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay.

Her is a simple movie that asks a lot of very complex and important questions. Tagged as a Spike Jonze love story the film quite formulaic-ally tells the story of 2 people falling in love. The plot is much like other great love stories of our time, You Got Mail comes to mind. But the true beauty about Her is not in its basic plot, it is all the hidden complexity that lingers beneath the surface. Joaquin Phoenix plays the protagonist Theodore Twombly, a lowly letter writer who is hot off the heels of a painful divorce, so news the ink hasn't even been laid on the paper yet to dry. In the slightly futuristic world he lives in, I place it somewhere 18-20 years from today, he finds solace in technology, like so many of us do. We see Theo having phone sex with random women and playing video games to hide from himself that he is truly alone and sad.

His salvation comes when he purchases a new operating system called OS1. The system is the worlds first intuitive AI, it has the ability to think, feel, and learn from its experiences in the same way a human does. Besides the lack of physical form, the only difference between a human and OS1 is OS1's extremely more powerful intelligence. As Theo begins to engage with the operating system the symbiotic relationship that is formed almost immediately seems to be just what the doctor ordered. We watch as Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johannson as the voice of OS1 (Samantha) begin down a road together in their new relationship. Both actors give extremely genuine and powerful performances. Someday the academy might recognize that just because the actor is not physically present doesn't mean they shouldn't be nominated.

Beyond the performances, which are all completely top notch. We are given a very authentic vision of the future. It is not too Sci-Fi to seem unrealistic. We see Los Angeles, we are given the same landmark skyscrapers we are used to but not we have some additions. Done by shooting in Shanghai and LA and making the city seem one, Spike Jonze is able to keep us grounded and connected to this futuristic landscape. The score is quite perfect really, in so many ways the music helps set the tone for the OS itself as it has not physical form, the music of the film takes on a huge role.

Lack of the visualization of Samantha in Her makes for a very interesting love scene between Scarlett and Joaquin. The scene is completely audio driven with absolutely no imagery on the screen, for what seems to be 30 or so seconds the screen remains completely blank while the two characters engage in sex. This was one of the most interesting moments in the film for me as it really added a level of intimacy to the scene that is often hard to achieve in film. Instead of the audience being stimulated by nudity or sexual content on the screen we are only given the passionate sounds between the two individuals involved. This creates an environment of voyeurism wherein you as an audience member almost feel guilty for listening in on this very intimate moment between two loves.

Done in quite eloquence, Her is my favorite film of the year and will be talked about for decades to come.

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