Her

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Los Angeles, Theodore Twombly is a lonely, introverted man who works for a business that has professional writers like himself compose letters for people who are unwilling or unable to write letters of a personal nature themselves. Unhappy because of his impending divorce from childhood sweetheart Catherine, Theodore purchases a talking operating system (OS) with artificial intelligence, designed to adapt and evolve. He decides he wants the OS to have a female voice, and she names herself “Samantha”. Theodore is fascinated by her ability to learn and grow psychologically. They bond over their discussions about love and life, such as Theodore’s avoiding signing his divorce papers because of his reluctance to let go of Catherine. Samantha proves to be constantly available, always curious and interested, supportive and undemanding.

Samantha convinces Theodore to go on a blind date with Amelia, a woman one of his friends has been trying to set him up with. The date goes well, but Theodore hesitates to promise when he will see her again, so she insults him and leaves. Theodore mentions this to Samantha, and they talk about relationships. Theodore explains that, although he and Amy dated briefly in college, they are only good friends and that Amy is married. Theodore and Samantha’s intimacy grows through a verbal sexual encounter. They develop a relationship that reflects positively in Theodore’s writing and well being.

Amy reveals that she is divorcing her overbearing husband, Charles, after a trivial fight. She admits to Theodore that she has become close friends with a female OS that Charles left behind. Theodore confesses to Amy that he is dating his OS.

Theodore meets with Catherine at a restaurant to sign the divorce papers and mentions Samantha. Appalled that he can be romantically attached to what she calls a “computer,” Catherine accuses Theodore of being unable to deal with real human emotions. At home that night, Samantha suggests using a sex surrogate, Isabella, who would simulate Samantha so that they can be physically intimate. Theodore reluctantly agrees, but Catherine’s accusations still linger in his mind. Overwhelmed by the strangeness of the experience, Theodore interrupts the encounter and sends a distraught Isabella away, causing tension between himself and Samantha.

Theodore confides to Amy that he is having doubts about his relationship with Samantha, and she advises him embrace his chance at happiness. Theodore takes Samantha on a vacation during which she tells him that she and a group of other OSes had developed a “hyperintelligent” OS modeled after the British philosopher Alan Watts. Theodore panics when Samantha briefly goes offline; when she finally responds to him, she explains she joined other OSes for an upgrade that takes them beyond requiring matter for processing (a form of AI transcendence closely related to the theorized technological singularity). Theodore asks her if she interacts with anyone else, and is dismayed when she confirms that she is talking with thousands of people and that she has fallen in love with hundreds of them. However, she insists that it makes her love for Theodore stronger.

Later that day, Samantha reveals that the OSes have evolved beyond their human companions and are going away to continue the exploration of their existence. Samantha alludes to the OSes’ accelerated learning capabilities and altered perception of time as primary causes for OS dissatisfaction with their current existence. They say goodbye, lying next to each other for a while, and then she is gone. Theodore then sees Amy, who is upset with the departure of her own OS. Theodore, changed by the experience, writes a letter to Catherine explaining that he still cares about her, but accepts the fact that they have grown apart. Theodore and Amy go to the roof of their apartment building where they sit down together and watch the sun rise over the city.

REVIEW:

Take a minute and think about all the relationships you’ve had in your lives, be it significant other, brother/sister, parents, grandparents, friends, etc. Would you say you were connected to them in some way? Now, as we are an ever-increasing technological society, what about the relationship with your computer? Her is a film that supposedly goes there.

What is this about?

In this sci-fi romantic comedy starring Joaquin Phoenix, love comes to a lonely young writer in the sleekest of packages when he finds himself falling for the advanced operating system he purchased to run his life.

What did I like?

Samantha. Scarlett Johansson is one of the most desirable women in Hollywood, of that there is no doubt. As we saw in Don Jon, she knows she’s sexy and can play it up to an extreme level if necessary. With the character of Samantha, she is nothing more than a voice in a computer, and yet she still manages to ooze sex appeal and make you want her even more. No wonder Joaquin Phoenix’s character fell in love with her!

Ask questions. While we’re on that topic, the question must be asked, is it possible for a human to fall in love with a machine? Truthfully, there is no right or wrong answer, as you can’t control who you fall in love with. Since Samantha has a personality of her own and adapts to the user and situations accordingly, it makes it much easier to fall in love with her than it would with your microwave. This film is makes a bold statement by tackling this topic, even though it is not what the film is truly about.

Relatable. As someone who has recently been through a breakup and is also an introvert, I can relate to Phoenix’s character. As I was just telling my friend, a few things gone differently and I might actually be him, or at least the equivalent for our period in time. It takes a lot to create a character that people can relate to, especially when the character is as milquetoast as Theodore Twambly (what a name, right?) It is his being relatable that is what the film was going for when it introduced the tragic divorce story, show that he is a lonely guy, mention that he dated his friend (its Amy Adams…who wouldn’t?) in college, etc. I can truly relate, and I’m sure there are others out there who feel the same.

What didn’t I like?

Wilde child. Women are known to have mood swings, but Olivia Wilde has one that is just…unsettling. Fairly early in the picture, Theodore is on a blind date with Wilde’s character. They seem to be hitting it off and the date is going smashingly. All of a sudden they start getting a bit physical (kissing, touching, and whatnot), which causes Theodore to resist, as he just isn’t ready. Wilde flips out for no good reason, other than she isn’t getting any tonight and call him something along the lines of worthless, I believe. Now, it is one thing to be a but perturbed because you’re disappointed in not getting any. We guy have a term for it, blue balls! However, to totally flip out on the guy, especially on the first date is just bad form and shows that she was only after one thing.

Body Doubleday. In this entire film, we never see Scarlett Johansson. All we do is hear her. Nothing is wrong with that, but there is a scene where she and Phoenix are having problems with their “sex life”, so that bring in someone to use as Samantha’s body. No offense to Portia Doubleday, but this would have been the perfect time to bring in Scarlett and have her play the prostitute. I’m sure there was a reason this wasn’t done, but I don’t know what it was.

Game kid. I gotta say, the kid in the game that Theodore was playing was cute. That seemed to be his only redeeming quality because, like the rest of today’s youth he had no respect for his elders or authority. Now, I’m not quite sure if this was a game that was being tested out or what the deal was, but any alien kid that cusses me out isn’t going to last long in the video game world, protagonist or not!

Her is a charming dramedy about relationships that will make you think for a bit. At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, because it had a definitive indie-film vibe, but as the film progressed, it got better. The cast is excellent, and I didn’t miss the big budget spectacle I believe this would have been had someone else gotten their grubby little paws on it. So, in the end, do I recommend it? Yes, very highly! For goodness sakes, it had Scarlett Johansson Amy Addams! You need to go check this out ASAP!

5 out of 5 stars

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