When we think about what the future looks like, emotional relationships with our computer’s operating systems don’t necessarily come to mind. Or do they? If you take a look at the current world around you, this idea doesn’t seem so unrealistic after all. As depressing as it may be, it’s almost impossible to neglect the thought of the rapid growth of communication technology resulting in an alien modern reality. Director Spike Jonze gives us a glimpse of this peculiar near future in the only way he knows best. Known for his unique visual creativity, Jonze creates a very real, futuristic setting for his latest Oscar-nominated film Her to convey a relevant insight into the human soul.
“Her” tells the story of writer Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a sensitive and emotional man who is seeking an escape from his depression that’s resulted from his impending divorce. His social life isn’t as active as it once was and the only interaction with others he now has is with his close family and friends including college friend Amy (Amy Adams) and his boss (Chris Pratt). Theodore holds down a day job by composing personalized e-letters for those who can’t put their emotions into words by speaking his words to a computer screen. It isn’t long before he realizes he needs someone to listen to his own emotions and feelings. It’s then that he decides to use his computer’s operating system (OS) to put him at ease. Little does he know that his friendly and charming OS, named Samantha, (Scarlett Johansson) would not only organize his files and emails, but that her strong possession of creative thoughts and feelings would also pull him into a relationship unlike any other he’s ever had.
Joaquin Pheonix does a stellar job in portraying a man who is undoubtedly searching for an escape from his lonely life. Although most of the film’s scenes consist of Theodore alone either in his apartment or his job, his emotions and feelings towards Samantha are strong enough to be felt through the screen, continuously capturing the audience’s hearts and attention. Joaquin’s portrayal of Theodore’s tormented and vulnerable character is yet another one of his great performances. Scarlett Johansson is never seen through the film but her voice expresses more emotion than any visual character could. Because her voice is almost instantly recognizable it’s inevitable to not picture her face with Samantha’s voice which actually helps give Samantha an even brighter presence.
Her is an example of just how eccentric Spike Jonze’s imagination could be. He vividly displays the premise of this modern romance consisting of a highly technological environment that seems familiar but at the same time unusual with its interesting sci-fi characteristics. As absurd as this relationship may seem, Jonze uses it to define the love story of our time. The audience is brought into a world with a vast emotional landscape that allows us to not just feel for Theodore, but to feel with him. After experiencing the heartbreaking yet beautiful love story of Theodore and Samantha, everyone will walk away with a better understanding of why “falling in love is a form of socially acceptable insanity.”
Montclair State | New Jersey