Her follows the story of a lonely writer, Theodore, who falls in love with his artificial intelligent operating system. In the throes of divorce, Theodore lives a stagnant life. Occasional nights of video games and outings with friends make up his otherwise solitary lifestyle as a writer. The release of the world’s first artificial intelligence introduces Theodore to his A.I. Samantha. Slowly but surely, Theodore finds himself drawn to Samantha’s intelligence and thirst for life. Can a relationship between a man and a computer work?
Her is written and directed by Spike Jonze, best known for directing the film Being John Malkovich (1999). The cast includes a Hollwood A-lister Joaquin Phoenix as the main character Theodore. Amy Adams plays Theodore’s fellow urbanite neighbor/best friend, Amy. Theodore’s soon-to-be ex-wife, Catherine, is played by Rooney Mara. Scarlett Johansson plays the voice of the A.I. operating system, Samantha.
Though the premise can illicit initial skepticism, Her follows an at times poignant, other times comical narrative of the modern man. Set in the not-so-distant future, the film is a character study of a man struggling with divorce, dating and just finding a connection. Is Theodore merely escaping and shutting out human interaction by falling in love with a computer? Or does Theodore simply find what he cannot in his fleshy counterparts in Samantha? The sci-fi romance traverses a trans-human experience but lands at its central commentary: humanity.
Characters such as Amy prove to be differing commentaries on Theodore’s new relationship. Catherine herself shows part of the reason behind Theodore’s state of living. Catherine and Theodore’s love represents heavy, difficult and an errant type of love. Samantha presents something fresh, exciting and definitely different. Samantha, as a continually evolving A.I. aims to find understanding in every aspect of human life. Theodore is intrigued and impressed at every turn. The dialogue is impressive and there is a level of depth behind the struggle for human connection with each scene.
Phoenix carries the film as the face of urban ennui, Theodore. Johansson is perfect as the sultry, sexy A.I. voice Samantha. Jonze, himself, won an Academy Award for Best Screenplay for Her. The award is much deserved. The script blends wit with the absurd, hilarious with melancholy.
The film does rely heavily on dialogue. For moviegoers looking for a big bang or slapstick comedy, this may not be the option. For those looking for something a little more pensive and thought-provoking, Her gets the job done.
Her is definitely for the mature audience. Watch as a couple or with a group of friends – the subject matter may not tread well if you are going to watch it alone. However, the film definitely helps you reflect on your past relationships. It helps you reflect on your current ones, too.
This is because Theodore’s dilemma is universal. Regardless of where we are in our adult life, Theodore resonates within us. We may even have been in Theodore’s shoes. Save for the fact of falling for Samantha’s siren voice, of course.