Her Movie Review
Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with his operating system, but can you blame him? It's voiced by Scarlett Johansson, and she is great at phone sex. A better question, one posed by writer/director Spike Jonze in the movie Her, is... what makes us human?
It's an intriguing exploration, and who better to lead such a journey than the director of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Where the Wild Things Are, movies that have demonstrated he is not afraid of blurring the lines between reality and fiction, nor questioning whether what occurs in the mind is imagination or something more.
Phoenix is downright phenomenal as Theodore, a slightly socially awkward man who lives in a not-so-distant future where the separation between humanity and technology is narrower than ever. Every word of dialogue that passes through his lips, every twitch beneath his cheeks, demonstrates his dedication to the character, and yet nothing about his performance feels forced or out of place.
Johansson is very good as well, though in "merely" a voice role it's hard to take award talk seriously for the actress in this particular case.
As things progress between them, Jonze does an amazing job of making their relationship feel real - because, in the moment of the story, it is. If one of his goals is to make you accept that a man could fall in love with a software program (er, sorry, operating system), then he succeeds wholeheartedly; at the point where software can replicate human emotion and, via artificial intelligence, develop and evolve, it's not impossible to think that a person could form an emotional bond with a sexier-sounding Siri.
Her is at times captivating, always engaging and often entertaining. Even the world that Jonze has created is fascinating, where technology has moved forward but fashion and style have regressed to the 1950's or thereabouts. Many people will not regard Her as a science fiction film, but it is perhaps the purest sci-fi film in years.
Her didn't hold me in the end as it has some fellow critics, but its grasp loosens only slightly. The movie is an incredibly acted, written and directed production and one of the best movies of 2013. Now where can I buy this Scarlett Johansson-voiced operating system?
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.