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Her– Movie Review

Submitted by on January 6, 2014 – 9:15 amNo Comment

Spike Jonze‘s Her is a brilliant, hilarious, and heartbreaking movie. The love story at the center is intriguing, but the real star of the film is Jonze’s uncanny ability to imagine and satirize a world that hasn’t quite happened yet.

Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is a lonely writer in the near-future of LA. He downloads what is advertised as “the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system.” His new OS, Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), proves to be funny, sensitive, curious, and the two quickly develop a deep relationship that becomes romance. Theodore struggles to get over his divorce from Catherine (Rooney Mara), and then to work out issues in his new relationship with Samantha- because she isn’t “real,” doesn’t have a body, and then because she begins to grow beyond Theodore’s comprehension.


The film is shockingly funny at times, especially in the beginning. Though “melancholy” runs throughout Her, Jonze and his cast find humor through dogged commitment to their absurd premises, with a mischievous and blunt look at what the future might hold. Much of the humor comes from the collision of intimacy and technology: Theodore lingering on celebrity nude photos while riding the subway; having awkward phone sex with a stranger (in what appears to be a fairly routine practice); and confronting Samantha apprehensively after their first sexual encounter. All are played so honestly, they are hysterical.

Of course, Her is not all laughs; it will be a roller coaster for anyone who has suffered loss, and sees when the inevitable is coming.

I would need a second viewing of Her to think about whether the love story is illuminating of our changing relationship with technology, or maybe just a decent reflection of a human relationship through the eyes of sci-fi. It was sometimes difficult to concentrate, because the world Jonze creates is so positively distracting. (Shanghai, China was used to stand in for futuristic LA.) He and his creative team have clearly thought about how the world will look in a few years, and it’s a blast seeing what they come up with. Young men dress and groom even more like grandfathers than they do now, and a video game called “Perfect Mom” awards points for making the other mothers jealous and humping the fridge. New societal norms spring up in reaction to new technology almost instantaneously, as Theodore and Samantha have no trouble making friends and even finding a human surrogate to join their relationship.

With films like Where the Wild Things Are and Being John Malkovich, Jonze is known for his trippy, stylized visuals and speculative worlds. But seeing this mixed in so subtly with a real-ish, human story was striking.

Did you see Her? What did you think? Let us know in the Comments.

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