In today’s world where majority of people’s daily lives are spent interacting with their phones & computers, a world where people are virtually in touch with everyone; a world where technology has seeped into the modern human relationships so much that it is making its presence felt unlike ever before through online dating, cyber chat or phone sex, and cinema like this couldn’t have arrived at a better moment.
The basic plot of Her is simple enough – Joaquin Phoenix stars as Theodore Twombly, a lonely individual who ghostwrites “heartfelt” letters for other people by day and spends his nights holed up in his apartment playing video games. In the prolonged divorce process from his wife (Rooney Mara), Theodore has withdrawn from social interaction, save for some awkward small talk with office receptionist Paul (Chris Pratt) and occasional conversations with his longtime friend Amy (Amy Adams).
Things begin to change for Theodore when he purchases a new operating system. Touted as the world’s first artificially aware program, the operating system is designed to continuously evolve based on its user’s needs. And evolve it does. It isn’t long before Theodore and the OS, having dubbed itself Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), enter into what can only be described as a relationship.
Samantha becomes a constant presence in Theodore’s life, accompanying and conversing with him via an earpiece and “seeing” the world through his cellular phone’s camera (helpfully propped up in his breast pocket with the help of a handy safety-pin).
Needless to say, the path of true love does not run smoothly and before long, Theodore is having to deal with Samantha’s insecurities as well as his own. The film delivers us a meditation on the nature of love and social isolation in the modern age.
If you forget that Samantha is a computer and think of her as a human being this movie is basically a series of relationship conversations between Phoenix and a camera phone. The pace is surprisingly slow, and since the “girl” has no body, it’s difficult to visually show their relationship.
The rest of the movie is basically talking. Samantha expresses lots of deep ideas about being a computer, but they are never visualized. Thus after a while, the plot never really moves, and the concept starts to lose steam. It might have been nice to tighten the story, and to sharpen the pencil a bit more.
Her features an incredibly talented cast in Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde & Scarlett Johansson and every actor has contributed something unique here. Phoenix gives a sincere & heartfelt rendition of Theodore; a sad, lonely & melancholic person who has lost touch with his once social self. Amy Adams is adorable. But it’s Samantha, perfectly voiced by Scarlett Johansson, who gives the OS voice its own heart & soul in what could be a career-best performance.
Set in an unspecified future Los Angeles, Her is set in hi-tech office blocks and apartments with the outdoors of Shanghai blended in. The film is warmly lit and there is heavy use of Day-Glo colors, especially orange, as if to ensure that the film does not seem too cold in spite of its minimalism and futuristic look. The score is also executed perfectly by Arcade Fire.
Her is strangely one of the most disturbing, weird and heart warming film made in a long time. There is something extremely believable and yet retarded about seeing people speaking to a computer in the streets or playing interactive video games at home, not to mention engaging in virtual intercourse with their OS and hiring professionals to dictate their letters for them, deftly underscoring the growing dependence on, and social disconnect technology is bringing into the human life !!
Maybe it will inspire people to switch their phones off and just look around, and experience the real world.
Her Oscar Trivia: