Movie review: Her

Posted: February 14, 2014

In love or just lonely?

Society is broken. Technology has taken over everyday life. Social interaction is slim, many have their love letters written for them and a one-night stand can be arranged without even getting out of bed. This all happens within the first 15 minutes of the film. The setting of Los Angeles creates a place surrounded by swarms of people, but everyone is alone in their own world. No one looks at one another; they are consumed with an earpiece that makes up their lives. Her depicts a world of social destruction and shows a place where a phone has the capabilities of the human brain.

Her imagines a society where people rely on technology everyday, an artificial intelligence like a more advanced Siri, progresses to become astonishingly life-like. The main character, Theo Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), writes personal letters for others, but this job becomes hard for him when his wife leaves him. Conveniently a life changing operating system (OS) is released to keep him company. Theo’s OS named Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) is an update of software. Conversations between Samantha and Theo are awkward and don’t seem to have any sort of pattern. Because she is adapting to Theo’s personality, there is an easy transition into their love story. Samantha’s capacity to grow through experiences and evolve faster than any human makes it hard to contain her. As they fall in love, Samantha’s capacity for emotions and ability to update herself grows.

In some ways this love between Samantha and Theo is deeper than some human relationships. Because Samantha doesn’t have a body, Theo “falls in love” with who she is and not her physical appearance. This adds more depth to a story that seems bland. But there is still unnecessary, overly sexual conversations between Theo and Samantha, which, makes the story less about falling in love. It seems more like Samantha is someone to talk to and Theo is lonely.

With only six important individual appearances (plus the voice of Johansson) in Her, the movie makes the audience feel as if they were a part of that society. Phoenix conveys the anti-social norm well. Though the premise of the film was intriguing to me, Her left me bored and uncomfortable. The storyline droned on too long and the plot never progressed into something more than a creepy love story.

The films attempt to show the “coming society” was overshadowed by excessive swearing and sexual interaction. The audience ends the movie wondering, “what was the point of that movie?” because their society ends right where they started. Confused as to why it is nominated for Best Picture, I was only interested over-arching concept.

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