The latest film from Spike Jonze, Her, is funny, and creepy, and it’s a dead on social commentary…and it’s brilliant.
Set in the ‘very near future’, the story revolves around Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix as Spike’s on screen avatar), a shy guy who still hasn’t fully jumped back in the game after a messy divorce. He buys the latest technology, an artificially intelligent operating system for his computer that’s marketed as more ‘intuitive’ than anything we’ve had before. And as I’m sure you know, when Theodore chooses a female voice for his OS, the voice that comes back is…Scarlett Johannsen. (And let me the 10,000th guy to make the joke, ‘So…when is this OS going on the market for the rest of us?) As Theodore and ‘Samantha’ get a feel for each other’s temperament and mood, they begin to fall in love. And like with all relationships, the honeymoon stage is great (capped with one of the most clever ‘hookup/morning after’ scenes in a little bit).
Her really takes off when, naturally, Theodore has to deal with real people, especially women. Scarlett never appears on screen, but the rest of the female cast includes Amy Adams playing completely away from her looks, Rooney Mara (in the Sofia Coppola role, let’s be honest), and Olivia Wilde fairly accurately representing the L.A. dating scene. That is a geek wet dream list of actresses in any film, and they all work great here. The bulk of the film is just Joaquin onscreen reacting to something invisible though, and this role makes great use of his quirkiness.
At this point, I want to think my friends and fellow film geeks for not talking too much about this film. Even having the beats of the genre burned in my brain, when the film hit its third act ‘twist’ (which I won’t ruin here), I yelled ‘OH HELL NO!’ at my TV. The story is told well, and you feel for what the characters are going through. That’s all the audience wants, most of the time.