Her tells touching love story
In the not-too-distant future, operating systems have surpassed human intelligence, and the only place left to buy clothes from is American Apparel. That is the world that Her drops viewers in. Directed by Spike Jonze, this movie was recently nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
The film follows Theodore Twombly, played by Joaquin Phoenix, a divorced man struggling with loneliness who sees an advertisement for an artificially intelligent operating system and decides to buy it. He then meets his operating system, Samantha, played by Scarlett Johansson, and their relationship begins to form and grow in interesting ways.
Her is an incredible science fiction film — and a fantastic film in general — because it not only portrays a realistic vision of the future and the issues that society will have to face, but because it also explores the ever-present struggles of human nature.
After viewing many movie trailers and commercials for the film, it’s easy to imagine the emotional depth that the film aims for. However, one thing that may catch viewers off-guard is just how funny Her is. Sometimes subtle, often vulgar, occasionally deep; all of these varied comedic moments strike the right notes with perfect timing within the film, making sure Her does not become too heavy and keeping it believable. After remembering that the movie is directed by Spike Jonze — who has collaborated with the likes of the team behind Jackass — it’s easy to see where the film gets its sense of humor.
Another aspect of the film that works well is its portrayal of the not-too-distant future. Filmed in Los Angeles and Shanghai, the urban setting creates great parallels between the large population density and the loneliness felt by the various characters throughout the movie. There’s this distance between how busy and populated future Los Angeles is and how the characters — especially Theodore — cope with their struggles in connecting with individuals and society as a whole. The film utilizes this great aesthetic as well, creating a future that isn’t drenched in chrome, but instead full of life.
While the film is phenomenal, the ways in which Jonze handles some of the secondary characters is problematic. Olivia Wilde’s character feels fairly single-note and doesn’t have much screen time, which is unfortunate due to what she represents in Theodore’s emotional progression throughout the film.
Additionally, Chris Pratt’s performance as Paul, Theodore’s boss, received very little billing in the film’s promotion. He provides quite a few laughs and an interesting perspective on Theodore and Samantha’s relationship, though.
However, those faults are easily overshadowed by the main performances. The relationship between Theodore and Samantha feels authentic, and it grows and develops with the added issues that arise from Samantha being an operating system.
Theodore and Samantha both have to deal with loneliness, love, expressing their emotions, and learning how to connect with others. Ultimately, this is what Her is about: How the ability to connect with and open up to someone is one of the scariest, and most rewarding, parts of life. How we open up to others as a society may change over time — whether it’s through handwritten love letters or a string of emojis — but ultimately those connections can lead to the deepest feelings and experiences.
As a film, Her certainly deserves its recent award nominations. It’s visually enticing, with great performances that provoke a lot of thought. A definite contender for Best Picture, it is a fantastic film that explores interesting concepts while staying true to human nature.