Is it possible to fall deeply in love with your talking operating system? Spike Jonze makes us believe so.
In Jonze’s most recent film Her, broken-hearted writer Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) lives an introverted life balancing between work, video games, and occasional dates since his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara) left him. He repeats this despondent and solitary routine, only invigorated by fortuitous encounters with his friend Amy (Amy Adams). Weary and unable to connect with anyone, he decides to take home a new talking operating system who calls herself Samantha (Scarlett Johansson). Charmed by the plot, the movie captivates in the same way that the operating system captivates Theodore.
Director Spike Jonze, famous for other wacky and eccentric projects, offers a love story unlike any other. The futuristic depiction of Los Angeles is conceivable—utopian-like and non-violent. This portrayal is rare in science-fiction movies, which is why it’s even more original. Indeed, the people are nicer, calmer; and the technology is so advanced that it eases life dramatically. Phones read newspapers, classify mail, organize daily routines, and eventually fall in love with you. But to what extent is our technology going to guide our life? And is it necessarily a good thing? Jonze answers these questions with his unique trajectory and sense of humour.
Starting out by taking over Theodore’s technological life, the voice begins to reveal more and more personality—first as a friend, and later as a lover. Samantha has charisma, personality, and mostly, is aware of her situation. She understands how different she is from a real human being and covets a body of her own. The romance between Theodore and Samantha echoes the isolated relationship people share with their own technological devices, which disconnect them from the real world. Jonze critiques our reliance on technology today by presenting their love affair in as humanlike a way as possible.
The acting reaches our core and demands empathy for the unique couple. Phoenix is absolutely alluring as he embodies this morose and passionate man. Johansson is simply beautiful. She gives her best performance to date using only her voice, with an exactitude and sexiness that instantly enthralls. The chemistry is so intense that it made me deeply care and root for the lasting of their relationship. Moreover, Amy Adams also deserves acclaim for her performance as Theodore’s longtime friend. She gives a truthful and raw acting performance that once again showcases her talent during what has already been a strong year for her.
The cinematography is just as impressive as the acting in this film. Jonze transports us from beginning to end through this universe with clear images, stunning shots of the city, and an uncanny way of filming his lead actor using mainly close-ups. He forces us to connect with Theodore in the same way he did with Samantha, and we enjoy being part of their relationship.
The writing also impresses and seduces the audience. Jonze uses a lot of poetry and other delicate phrasings that flow gently, and are delightfully intoxicating us. Johansson grants us her voice, but also pleases our senses with song. The intimate moments that we share with the couple makes us, in an absurd but comfortable way, also fall in love with her—or at least with the pair of them together.
Spike Jonze brings us into a dreamy, tender, and fascinating dimension with this very original love story. He took home the award for best screenplay at last week’s Golden Globes, and is now nominated for best original screenplay at the Oscars, which he also deserves. Her is a poem where the acting supplies the rhymes; writing, verses; and the cinematography, the pace.