Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) works for BeautifulHandwrittenLetters.com. The company provides a service where people send requests for letters to be written and send to their loved ones. Theodore is probably on of their best writers.
Theodore is going through a divorce from his wife, Catherine (Rooney Mara). This has sent him into a deep depression. He has become almost a recluse. The only people he spends time with are Amy (Amy Adams) and her husband, Charles (Matt Letscher). Luckily, technology is so advanced that he rarely needs to interact with actual people.
Then OS1 comes out. It is the first artificially intelligent OS. The OS asks a series of questions to configure itself to best meet your needs. Theodore buys OS1 and chooses a female voice. When the OS is set up, it decides on the name Samantha (Scarlett Johansson). She speaks with normal human speech patterns and quickly learns and grows. Samantha is more than just a phone operating system. Theodore speaks to her through an earpiece connected to his phone. She is able to get visual input through the camera on his phone. It is a way for her to learn how the world works, and for the pair to experience everything together.
Since Theodore is so antisocial and dependent on his technology, he spends all of his time with Samantha. They begin to fall in love. Theodore struggles with the fact that he is in a relationship with his OS. Samantha is concerned that Theodore may want more than she can offer, since she has no physical presence in his life. The couple must learn to navigate this unexpected connection as they find themselves going through the same cycles that people in typical relationships must go through.
You have to give credit to Joaquin Phoenix. Most of his scenes are him, alone, speaking to a voice over. He is essentially acting in a vacuum. That has to be incredibly difficult. ScarJo has the opposite challenge. There is so much feeling and emotions she has to convey using nothing but her voice. It’s a way to force people to pay attention to her talent by removing the distraction of her stunning good looks.
Spike Jonze has written and directed a unique twist on the typical romantic film. Her makes you contemplate our dependence on technology. It is a realistic look at the natural progression of where we are now and where we are headed. It also makes you question what the definition of love actually is. Every scene is planned out and artistically shot. And every minute is paired with a score that fits the tone and pace of the film perfectly.
I don’t get it. Apparently, I’m the only one (Her currently has a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes), but I really don’t get the whole thing.
Her contains two of the most awkward, uncomfortable love scenes I’ve ever seen in a film. I don’t even know what to say about them. There is a third love scene that takes place at the beginning of the movie with Kristen Wiig. It is bizarre, shocking, and funny. Sadly, it is the high point of the movie. And they put it at the beginning.
As the movie goes on, it gets more and more bizarre. Samantha evolves at an ever-increasing pace. Her whole “being” changes. She maintains her connection to Theodore. But after about the first hour or so, I found myself wondering what she was talking about and where they were going with the story. As the movie ends, I think Spike Jonze is giving us a glimpse at how Skynet starts.
The pace of the movie is slow. Very slow. It drags on for just over 2 hours. I kept waiting for things to pick up a little. They never did. I found myself not only looking at my watch, but struggling to keep my eyes open. And the soundtrack doesn’t help. It really does fit the film perfectly. To quote my wife, “There could have been good stuff at the end, but I was so bored by that point, I didn’t care.” That pretty much sums up the film.
What I really found myself wondering is how far into the future is Her supposed to take place? I’m interested in Spike Jonze’s vision of the future of technology and the apparently infinite battery life. Not one device was plugged in. Ever. That in itself makes the film lose all credibility.