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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sean Kelly

My Thoughts on Her

herSpike Jonze returns as the writer and director of this very unconventional love story.  Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is a socially awkward man, whose job involves writing love letters for other people.  Theodore is currently in the middle of a divorce with his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara) and finds himself quite lonely, with his only real friend and confidant being his equally awkward neighbour Amy (Amy Adams). 

Theodore installs a new computer operating system called OS1, which was advertised as being the first operating system with an artificial intelligence.  The operating system boots up and introduces herself as Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), whom Theodore instantly begins to feel a connection.  Over time Theodore begins to fall in love with Samantha, who slowly begins to grow and exceed her original programming.  This leads to questions about whether or not Theodore and Samantha can have a true relationship or if this is just Theodore’s way to escape the heartbreak of human relationships.

When the plot synopsis for Her started making its rounds, it was a common joke that this was the “guy falls in love with Siri” movie, referencing the voice-recognition help system on the latest models of iPhones.  Indeed it’s hard to look at a film about a guy falling in love with his computer operating system and expect it to be taken seriously.  However, in execution, Her was an absolutely wonderful film.

Part of what makes Her work is Scarlett Johansson’s voice-over work as Samantha.  She ends up being a fully realized character, even though all that’s present is her voice.  The film helps with the fact that Samantha is never a visible entity, by having Theodore carrying a portable computer with him at all times, which is often placed in his front pocket.  Throughout the course of the film, Samantha grows from simply being a computer operation system you can converse with to being a completely sentient being with her own wills and desires.  When Theodore and Samantha begin falling in love with each other, it is completely believable, thanks to how well Johansson portrays the character. 

It’s never specified when Her takes place, even though it’s obvious that it is a period in the near-future when technology has become further engrained into people’s lives.  It is quite sad that Theodore’s job has him working at a company, in which he writes letters on behalf of other people.  This just goes to show how few true inter-personal relationships are left in the world of the film.  In fact, as ironic as it may seem, Theodore’s love for Samantha is probably more true than the empty declarations in the letters he writes.

While Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson provide the main emotional core of the film, there is still some decent supporting performances by the likes of Amy Adams, Chris Pratt and Rooney Mara.  Olivia Wilde shows up for a single scene as a blind date, who quickly exceeds Theodore’s comfort zone.  There’s also a few familiar voices, who provide some voice-over cameos in the film, including a certain former Saturday Night Live cast member, in one of the film’s most hilarious and awkward moments.

While the premise of Her seems ridiculous on the surface, it ended up being one of the most wonderful and touching love stories that I have seen.  In the world of this film, I thought it was completely plausible that a man could fall in love with an operating system and the performances by both Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson really helped to bring this unconventional relationship to life.

10 | LOVED IT  

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).