Director: Spike Jonze
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Rooney Mara
Plot: A lonely man falls in love with an artificially intelligent operating system designed to interact and run his daily activities.
Review: I'm not really a fan of love stories, and probably never will be. But for my money, Her would be the most unique love story I've seen in a while.
Spike Jonze, who wrote and directed the film, presents a love story between a man and an operating system. The setting is obviously somewhere in the near future, where a lot of things are automated, and computers respond to users the same way a human would. In this story, Theodore Twombly is a lonely guy going through a lengthy divorce. He writes personalized letters for clients for special occasions, and seems to be fine for the most part, except not having someone important in his life. Then he purchases a new operating system that is programmed to meet his needs, organise his day to day affairs and even become his friend.
However, the operating system, who names herself Samantha, isn't just a computer that talks. She is capable of thinking and feeling, and responding to Theodore the same way a close friend would. Eventually Theodore and Samantha fall for each other, but she continues to evolve in ways neither of them anticipated, which leads to certain complications.
Sure, a love story like this might seem like a stretch on the surface, but Jonze is a terrific screenwriter. Because of that, every line of dialogue spoken in the film feels brilliant and real. A lot of times you'd feel like they're saying what you're feeling as you watch the story unfold. Add to that the excellent production and costume design (mostly pastel or light colours), cinematography and music score, and what you get is a really comfy yet moving story about love and life.
Joaquin Phoenix is perfect as Theodore. He's so good I can't picture anyone else in the role. He is the kind of guy we can easily relate to, a regular guy who thought he understood everything going on around him, but learns a lot more as the story moves along, discovering things about people he never truly realised, like his wife Catherine, played by Rooney Mara. Mara is good as well, though she only has one memorable scene here. Amy Adams lends solid support as Theodore's best friend, and like Theodore, I can relate to her easily as well. Scarlett Johansson provides the voice of Samantha, and I gotta say, she's the right choice indeed. Originally Samantha Morton was the voice (hence the name Samantha), but Jonze had Johansson re-record the lines and it was a good decision. The interaction between Theodore and Samantha is the film's key strength, and Johansson's low and sexy voice matches Phoenix's voice like a glove.
If there's anything I didn't like here, it would be the intimate moments between Theodore and Samantha. For me, it was rather awkward having a computer system feeling and imagining itself having a sexual encounter with a human. Later Samantha even attempts to take it a step further, though I won't spoil it for you. In hindsight, I can understand Jonze's reasons for including this element, but at the time I saw it, it felt quite strange.
Overall, I'd recommend Her to anyone who enjoys love stories. On another note, I'd really want one of those operating systems. Sounds really cool. (4/5)