In Spike Jonze’s perversely prescient vision of a not-too-distant future, human interactivity has all but broken down, while our relationship with technology has grown exponentially more intimate. Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), who composes heartfelt “handwritten” letters for a living, attempts to recover from a messy divorce by upgrading to the latest operating system, OS1.
Voiced by a delightfully charming Scarlet Johansson, “Samantha” learns from her mistakes, becoming more efficient, resourceful and intelligent in the process. In fact, she “gets” Theodore so completely, he begins to fall for “her”, to the point they even have sex…or at least talk about it in a passionate, and fulfilling manner.
Inevitably there is an element of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (and to a lesser extent Steve Barron’s Electric Dreams) in Jonze’s film, but rather than plotting to kill her human operator, Samantha experiences many of the same emotions her human equivalent would, with both positive and negative results.
The film’s premise is admittedly preposterous, but Phoenix does a brilliant job of selling a fiction that is only a keystroke away from our current obsession with second screens and permanent connectivity. The varied reactions from his friends and colleagues (particularly Amy Adams and Chris Pratt) only help fuel Her’s humorous observations about online culture.
In addition to the film’s smartly observed, and Oscar-winning script, Her is also immaculately designed in a retro future chic that emulates not the streamlined curves of many 60s science-fictions, but a more homely aesthetic of chipboard and tweed that only accentuates the films intoxicating charm.
This review first appeared in Cathay Pacific’s Discovery Magazine, May 2014