Wednesday, 26 February 2014


Sci-fi. Aliens, robots, space. All that cool stuff, right? Well what about love in a not too distance future? Companies that write love letters? Cyber sex? This is Her.

In the not-too-distant future, there is Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) , a lonely love letter writer, avoiding signing his divorce papers. He goes home at night, plays video games, and has, very strange, phone sex. His friend Amy (Amy Adams) tries to get him out, to set him up with her friends, and force him out of his slump. But nothing works until Theodore installs a new operating system on his computer, an artificial intelligence that adapts and evolves as it learns. The OS calls herself Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) and she form a bond with Theodore. Together they organise his life, write his letters, and begin to date. Weird right? Can it work out or will it crash and burn?

'I love Lamp'

Much in the same way Moon was a one man show, Her is held entirely by Phoenix.While Johansson's voice work is delightful, with her soft and subtle tones, picking up on every minor nuance of emotion, it is Phoenix who makes the film special. There is a real loneliness in his performance, the sense of true sadness until Samantha comes into his life. But the change from sadness to happiness is not a quick one. Covering a whole spectrum from cynicism to joy to carelessness, Theodore is undoubtedly a fully developed character from start to finish. Adams' Amy is her best role of the past year (yes, better than American Hustle) as she accompanies Theodore on his journey into love and develops something similar with her own Operating System. She plays an important role in the development of Samantha and Theodore's relationship, be it encouraging it, or being questioned by Samantha.

Secretly, who hasn't wanted to tuck their partner in their pocket?

There is something wonderfully unique and - possibly brutally - truthful about Her. In the world we live in today, technology is being programmed to be almost human. Of course, it is not the first time that artificial intelligence, and relationships with technology, have been the focus of the big screen, but it is the first time it has seemed so believable. Spike Jonze has created something that, with the invention of things like Siri, has a high possibility of happening. However, whilst the first two thirds of Her are something highly unique, the final chapter seems a bit too familiar. The focus in the final third, it has been speculated, should be heavily on Theodore's ending in the tale, which it looks like Jonze intended, but something is missing; something new to finish off the well known story that Her becomes towards the end.

All in all, a romantic sci-fi with hints of drama and comedy, on paper, sounds like the strangest thing to happen to cinema in a long while. And it is, in some respects, but it says something powerful about mankind's dependency on technology, and that message should be listened to.

Best Bit? As we see the bond between Samantha and Theodore develop they play a game where he closes his eyes and she gives him instructions. His childlike happiness is so contagious that you will not be able to stop yourself smiling along.

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