Spike Jonze is definitely one of the most interesting filmmakers working today. Although my feelings have been mixed when it comes to his previous efforts (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Where the Wild Things Are), there is no denying that Jonze has a style that is totally his. His latest film, the sci-fi love story “Her” is not only his best film to date, but would have made it on my top films of 2013 list if I had the chance to see it in 2013. This is a fantastic movie.
Joaquin Phoenix in my mind has never been better. His character Thodore is a professional personal letter writer. He works for a company that writes all types of personal letters for people unable/unwilling to write themselves. Living an isolated life after being left by his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara), Thodore spends his nights playing interactive video games (which look really cool in the future).
Theodore is caught by surprise when his new personalized computer operating system, which calls itself Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) gets pretty personal with him within minutes of being installed. The two wind up hitting it off immediately and Samantha helps get Theodore out of the rut he has been in. They take trips to the fair, beach, and strolls through the city, which is easy since she is also in his mobile device. They even go on a double date with Theodore’s co-worker Paul (Chris Pratt) and his girlfriend.
As happy as Theodore seems, the relationship is heartbreaking. We know there can be no future there, there will never be that important physical connection. One of the hardest things to take in about “Her” is that much of it feels completely plausible. I don’t think an OS will ever be as lifelike as Samantha, but humans beings are becoming more and more connected to their personal devices. The human connection is going the way of the home telephone. People I know don’t want to talk on the phone anymore, they just want to text. If you walk in the mall or through a busy street, I bet more than half the people you see are not looking anywhere but down at their smart phone. It is actually quite sad.
As much as “Her” is surrounded by technology, Jonze’s message is quite clear about how important the connection between people is. Go ahead and power down your iphone/android and go see “Her”.
By: Marc Ferman