Modern Loving – A review of Her
Production Company: Annapurna Pictures
Run Time: 126 minutes
Director: Spike Jonze
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Matt Letscher, Spike Jonze
Summary: In the modern age of technology, it’s only a matter of time before someone creates a machine that’s capable of anticipating needs and feelings and then the need for personal interaction will be eliminated completely…or will it?
Computers. They’re everywhere. We use them at work, at home and at school. They are a part of everyday life and, for many people, we can’t live without them.
They’re a great tool that can be used to make our lives easier. They aid us in everyday tasks and help us connect with others out there in the ‘real’ world.
Now, as shown in the movie ‘Her’, they can almost replace the need for human companionship.
Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator, Walk the Line) stars as Theodore Twombley, a surrogate letter writer who is recently separated from his wife. He buys a revolutionary operating system for his computer that’s designed to anticipate his every need.
Of course it comes equipped with the voice of Scarlett Johansson. Admittedly, I’d fall in love with that operating system, too.
But the questions develop when he starts ‘dating’ his OS. People in the ‘real’ world become concerned at the odd amount of time Theodore is spending with his computer which he is constantly connected to via a device resembling a Bluetooth inserted in his ear.
He dances and frolics with the computer as though she is really with him. He carries her as a smart phone conveniently tucked in his shirt pocket, allowing her to observe the world with camera faced outward to see the surrounding environment as he sees it.
She is smart, funny, playful, imaginative and, in her own way, extraordinarily sexy. Samantha, as she calls herself, is, in many ways, the perfect companion for the average lonely man.
Ironically, it’s when Samantha introduces a surrogate – a woman who can act in her behalf as a real world companion for them to channel through – that a strain is placed on their ‘relationship’.
Also ironically, the standard relationship caveat continues to exist. When two people get together, the companionship needs to develop as they get to know one another. As they grow together, the relationship must change them in a constantly evolving chemistry that brings them together.
Here, though, Samantha evolves exponentially thus putting a further strain on the relationship. Like the saying goes, men want their companions to stay the same over time while women hope that the men in their lives will grow with them. Yet even if he could evolve beyond his present circumstance, Theodore will never ‘grow’ as quickly as Samantha does.
In the hands of a lesser actor, this could have been simply a failed attempt at showing the foibles of an artificial love, but Phoenix has the gift of making Theodore a likable schleb and you WANT this relationship to work for him. At the same time, you can feel remorse since he has abandoned all hope of finding love in the ‘real’ world.
Similarly, his friend Amy (Amy Adams) sees her marriage crumble and she latches onto him as an anchor knowing that Theodore has found the love of his life.
‘Her’ is not as predictable as you might expect. There are nuances to each of the interactions that set the stage for the next chapter in each character’s story. And just about the moment where you think you know what will happen next, another monkey wrench emerges.
This is the kind of story that will leave you with more questions than answers after you’ve viewed it. After all, what makes the perfect balance in any relationship? Every person has their own recipe for happiness and not every ending is a happy one. They make the best of the situation, though, just as we all do in real life.
I give Her 4-1/2 out of 5 stars.