Directed by Spike Jonze

Grade: A-

Every romantically focused film made has tried desperately to capture the events, thoughts and emotions associated with love. But no film, in my opinion, has ever captured the essence of it quite as poignantly as Spike Jonze’s Her. The film traverses all of the ups and downs of relationships and love, exploring crucial moments from the magic of first connection to the heartbreak of loss. The truth in Jonze’s exploration of love is all the more astounding considering the futuristic context in which his story is based.

Her takes place in our not so distant future, when sentient Artificial Intelligences have become part of our everyday lives. The film follows Theodore Twombly, played with spectacular prowess by Joaquin Phoenix, as he gets to know and ultimately begins to love his personal operating system, voiced by Scarlett Johansson.

Dealing with such universal themes as love through an unconventional context can be a risky move, however, the astounding performances delivered by Phoenix and Johansson cemented the story in a visceral emotional reality that was hard to look away from. Scenes of intimacy between Theodore and simply the voice of his operating system is a unique acting challenge, but watching Phoenix’s face for minutes on end tells as much of a story as words ever could.

Not many romance films have room for much more than emotion; however, Jonze uses the futuristic context of the film to feed in fascinating themes. In particular, the film challenges the way we see technology. It pushes us to consider that though our technologies are currently tools, this perception will soon rapidly change the more complex it becomes. I couldn’t help but look around me after the film and notice how encompassing technology has become in our world, and how different the world will be the moment we admit that technology can think for itself, which we are already starting to see primitive forms of.

Her is a must see film for anyone with a heart. It’s a film that will make you feel for two hours, and think for weeks afterwards.
This article first appeared in Issue 1, 2014.
Posted 6:57pm Sunday 23rd February 2014 by Baz Macdonald.