Odd as it may seem, there comes a time when a movie that defines signs of the times is so over the top with its foolish message that it blurs the line between innocent public diversion and social media conditioning. And the idea that this was a hit with most critics means that a lot of pop pundits are unaware of cultural agendas as opposed to fun and games. If a bad review was ever more important than a good one, this is one of those instances. Then when it was nominated for an Oscar, that was a tip off we are living in an age where cryptic crud is sold as mod populism for sheepish masses.
Her, written and directed by Spike Jonze, is an E fable about the futuristic contrived, anti-humanistic love life of a divorced greeting card scribe (Joaquin Phoenix) who after no rebound luck with the ladies, opts for a cyber liaison with an operating system to date and fall in love with. A program named Samantha who runs his digital life and is played off screen by the dubbed voice of Scarlett Johansson to offset the illusion of virtual reality. So a premise more at home in a surreal viral cartoon is played straight as a nerd window into our compu-date future. Say what?
Phoenix's lovelorn character is dressed down in flaky mustache and geeky glasses and made to look a lot like your everyman web head so that PC system addicted audiences can identify with this loser and think that love with a machine is equal to physical reality. This claptrap can't help but remind one of psychotic modern memes such as the Singularity and the Zombie Apocalypse. Since never in 4th estate history has media been able to pass off insanity as new normal reality like now. This movie is sucker proof that you can fool most of the people most of the time.
For support, the flesh and blood female characters in this picture, like his soon to be ex (Rooney Mara), and a gal Friday (Amy Adams) are underdeveloped so as to focus on the witty scripted believability of his cyber bot beau to stretch the running time to feature length weirdness. But all that does is overkill the plot device of a man who is too affected by the digital age to achieve normal human interactive relationships. As a result, he has lost his humanity and traded touchy-feely intimacy beyond his social capacity for companionship of a computer consciousness surrogate.
In a new world of love and family downsizing to survive an ominous future, we've turned to digital tech to save us. Consequently, the concept of this film is every bit as toxic as processed food in your nearby supermarket or side effected meds at your local drug store. Instead of sending movie messages through dystopian filmmaking that is too downbeat to qualify as serious pastime, we westerners simply need to tell ourselves to stop reproducing like they do in the Far East. Her is two head shrink hours with an E nutcase and his PC OS flame. Just don't call it legitimate entertainment.