Quirky, funny, emotional. The acting is on point and the story is unpredictable, but the most moving part of this film is its level of realism and its social commentary, set in a beautifully created not-so-distant future. Recommended? As far as romantic movies go, Her is set apart in its originality and technological themes.
Spike Jonze’s Oscar-winning screenplay is truly an experience in itself. At times funny, at others emotional, he maintains a light atmosphere throughout the film like that in most romantic comedies. Even scenes that contained foul language or graphic sexual dialogue were maintained in a humorous light. The story evolves in an original way as well. In terms of the basic story, most people could predict how it goes and ends. What makes this story interesting is how the characters get there. We see them grow in ways we don’t expect and when the ending comes along, it is an emotional one that we don’t know is necessarily happy or sad. It just concludes and everyone can take from it what they do.
Joaquin Phoenix’s performance was central to the film and he held his ground well. His performance is quiet, introverted and alone. Looking at him today, he seems out of place, only really interacting with his electronic devices and video games. Upon further contemplation, it is obvious that everyone acts like this in the future because direct human interaction has become practically obsolete. The challenge with playing a character that interacts with someone that can be heard, but not seen, is in figuring out where to direct your attention on set. Phoenix worked this into his character, first staring at the devices on which Samantha exists, then just staring and speaking in space.
The world of the story is beautifully brought to life. It blends modern architecture with more advanced futuristic styles, but does not go overboard in a sci-fi/fantasy way. For some, the film can feel like it takes place in the present, for others it can feel like the future. Either way, it feels real. It adds to the sense of a story like this becoming reality in the near future. Even in details like the main character’s job, where he makes love letters that look handwritten for other people. In this world, people have become so detached that they can’t even reach out to their loved ones themselves.
At first, Her seems like a romantic comedy with a twist inspired by an episode of The Big Bang Theory. In actuality, it runs far deeper and touches people in a way as real as the characters feel. It makes us question what it means to live and to exist and reasserts the importance of interpersonal relationships in our lives.