Set in the near future (specific year unnamed), Theodore is a sad sack. His marriage just broke up, he does not want to go out or do things, like hang out with friends, and his day job is writing personal letters (love letters, thank you letters, etc.) for other people who are just as pathetic as he is. So, what does he do to try to change things up some in his life: he buys a new computer with a personal, talking, interactive, emotive operating system (OS). And this OS changes his life.
Nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture, and winning Best Original Screenplay for avant-garde auteur/screenwriter Spike Jonze (who also directed this film), Her is a strange, complex tale of loneliness, despair and hope. I wanted to like it more than I did…my biggest problems with it were with the story and the way the OS takes over Theodore’s life. I was able to believe this unbelievable plot element, but had trouble feeling sympathy for a computer and had trouble feeling anything but sympathy for Theodore.
I remember when this one came out, everyone (reviewers, critics, etc.) made a fuss over how brilliant Scarlett Johansson is as the voice of the OS, named Samantha. And, as a voice, I guess she’s OK. But, I didn’t really think anything special was there. And, Amy Adams as Theodore’s friend and possibility for romantic hope for the future is a throw-away role. Adams is a great actress but here, she’s not given anything to work with. And finally, Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore…I should start off by saying that I am not a big Phoenix fan. But, putting that aside, I never really bought his Theodore. I never really believed he loved Samantha. I never really felt anything but pity for him. I mean he fell in love with a voice from a computer. Phoenix did nothing to make me overcome that hurdle.
Visually and stylistically, I loved it. I could really buy Theodore’s world as a possible world of tomorrow. It was creative, unusual, yet realistic in a way where there were no flying cars but just technology taken to the next degree. After I lost interest in some of the plot, I spent time just watching and studying Theodore’s world. It was fascinating and highly detailed and memorizing.
If you watch this one, make sure you spend more time focusing on Theodore’s surrounding than on his doomed relationship with a computer.