Film Review: Her
We all know how romantic films unfold. Boy is at the end of his rope, dealing with a difficult break up. Boy meets girl. Suddenly they fall head over heels in love, and the girl is 10 times better than the ex. They have ups, they have downs, but ultimately true love prevails. Spike Jonze’s Her is no different in terms of narrative, apart from the unique twist that the girl that our leading man falls in love with is an operating system.
Set in the not too distant future, the world’s first intelligent operating system becomes available on the market, which recently heartbroken Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), installs to help organise his life and offer a bit of much needed company after his break up with his long term partner, Catherine (Rooney Mara). The operating system, which chooses its own name as Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), is essentially a friendlier, funnier and more seductive version of Siri, and it’s not long before Theodore finds himself starting a relationship with his new best friend.
What Her does brilliantly, which any other writer or director could have gotten so wrong, is it keeps the love story at the core of its story. A romantic tale of two people falling in love is the main focus throughout, with the only difference between this film and other love stories being the fact that one of them is an OS. Shots of people displaying their outrage at our relationship with technology, news anchors hosting debates, or a sub plot of someone on a mission to take down the OS’s would have made this film something different, and something with Jonze is clever enough to keep the focus of the film away from.
That’s not to say you’re not challenged to think about our relationship with technology however, and to where we’re heading in the future. If Her had been released 5-10 years ago we certainly may be more alarmed at the future depicted on screen, instead we get shots of city centres where everyone is glued to their phones and leading their lives through technology: something which is not too different from reality. The notion that people will begin to fall in love with technology is something which is quite easily predictable also. There’s the example of Theodore telling his work colleague he’s dating an OS and he doesn’t batter an eyelid, and when he tells his best friend Amy (Amy Adams), she’s intrigued to know more than disgusted, and is even developing a strong friendship with her own OS.
Beautifully shot, with a gripping story and an interesting message, Her deserves all the plaudits it’s receiving.