The way we connect is changing. We communicate silently and remotely via texts, we can chat face to face across the world, we can even fall in love before we ever meet someone. Spike Jonze’s new movie “Her” is an incredible piece of cinema that outlines this new way of communicating and connecting.
The story, which may seem strange but is worth every minute of your time, revolves around Theodore Twombly, played brilliantly by Joaquin Phoenix, a man living in a slightly futuristc Los Angeles who writes love letters for his company, “Beautiful Handwritten Letters,” which has him dictating immensely personal letters to his computer, which then writes them out in the handwriting of whomever asked him to write these letters. And although this alone is an interesting premise, it is only a minor facet of the movie. The main attraction lies in Theodore’s acquisition of the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system, the OS 1. When Theodore installs it, he meets Samantha, the manifestation of his OS.
Samantha, voiced by an absolutely incredible Scarlett Johansson, is surprisingly human. She wants to grow and learn. She is soulful, funny, loving, caring and has her own problems. She is a living, growing mind stuck inside Theodore’s pocket. They realize as they spend all their time together that they connect fully and really love each other, which is where some may be lost in this unconventional romance. But it is wholly believable and beautiful. Their relationship is so artfully crafted and viewers learn to love both of them.
As mentioned previously, both Phoenix and Johansson’s performances are brilliant. They have such a connection, even though Johansson is never on screen. We believe every bit of this love story and fall in love with them. The supporting cast does an excellent job, as well. Amy Adams plays Theodore’s game developer friend, Amy, and Rooney Mara plays Theodore’s ex-wife, Catherine. Both have their own problems and both are emotionally crafted and deep.
Spike Jonze’s writing is absolutely brilliant. He has crafted a story that is so real and diverse. Every character is believable and deep; in essence, they are incredibly human. Jonze said early on that this movie was not about the wrongs of technology, but about how we connect. And this message of connection is incredibly prevalent and drawn perfectly in the film. Every human needs connection, and if an OS talking to us is how we connect, then there is nothing wrong with that. As Samantha says, “I have never loved anyone the way I love you and now we know how,” showing us that connection is a way of learning we have to love in order to love more.
The directing and cinematography are great, especially the art direction. Jonze creates a wholly believable near future that isn’t full of confusing gadgets, just a slightly cleaner and more futuristic look, with brilliant throwback fashion to match our incessant need to get inspiration from what came before.
Spike Jonze’s “Her” is an absolute masterpiece. It shows us just how much we need cinema. It shows us how to connect and how to love. It is a film that challenges the viewer’s beliefs, yet leaves us incredibly amazed at how much we can learn from a story of a man falling in love with his computer.