Director: Spike Jonze
Writer: Spike Jonze
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
A light and touching comedy, “Her” follows Theodore, a lonely writer going through a divorce who decides to upgrade his computer operating system to one of the first interactive artificial intelligences. As he gets to know Samantha (the A.I.), he realizes that he begins to develop feelings for her, something which he finds out is not that unusual and that others are developing relationships with A.I.’s as well. However, as Samantha begins to evolve and as she doesn’t have a body, things begin to change in their relationship, which has to evolve as Samantha and Theodore each begin to change.
This movie, while lightly comical like Spike Jonze’s other films (“Being John Malkovich,” “Adaptation”) is actually a very deep look at relationships in general. The typical idea of relationships is that they are static entities. But in reality they are living and growing as the participants live and grow. “Her” take this concept to the extreme, essentially “birthing” Samantha as a fully grown entity of sorts and having her evolve beyond the ability of human understanding. Because of this, Theodore and Samantha’s relationship changes and evolves dramatically and quickly during the course of the movie, showing an extreme version of the fundamental problems that relationships can go through as they change.
But it’s still a comedy. Not a slapstick comedy, but a comedy. It’s an intelligent comedy that is acted very well by Joaquin Phoenix (who seems to be redeeming himself after the “I’m Still Here” fiasco) and Scarlett Johansson, even though we only hear Johansson’s voice. Yet the relationship they develop is believable, along with other character’s reactions to it, from acceptance to denigration, much as interracial relationships used to be handled (and still are in some places).
The problem is that because it involves a computer A.I., I can see some people labeling this movie as science fiction, which is completely unfair. It also has a very pastely production design and some odd fashion choices that some can find and have found distracting. This is a relationship comedy, through and through. It’s touching, it’s genuine, and it’s thoughtful in ways that few films manage to truly be. And it’s still a comedy. I know I keep saying that, but it’s worth the reminder.
“Her” earns 4.5 out of 5 stars.