“Her” Review: A Unique View of Human Emotion

Joaquin Pheonix stars in "Her" along with Scarlett Johansson

Joaquin Pheonix stars in “Her” along with Scarlett Johansson

Her profoundly captures the human emotion through its principal characters who exhibit the characteristics of humanity in peculiar ways.  The film follows Theodore Twombly, a semi-recently separated man who exhibits signs of depression concerning finalizing his divorce.  Set in the distant enough future, developers release an artificial intelligence operating system that has similar thoughts and emotions to humans.  Theodore – portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix – purchases this new system and downloads it, truly beginning the film.  Written and Directed by Spike Jonze, Her is a bizarre look on current behaviors through a detached lens.

The operating system names herself Samantha because she “like(s) the way it sounds” which is the first case where she truly thinks on her own.  Samantha – voiced by Scarlett Johansson – is witty and caring and truly pays attention to Theodore’s behaviors.  Their relationship develops at a quickened pace considering how intimate their relationship was from its conception.  Samantha speaks to Theodore through an ear piece and through his phone, both of which are always with him, so it was inevitable that they would at least befriend each other quickly.  However, Theodore soon falls for Samantha and they fall in love at a rapid pace.

Overall, the film truly centers on human emotions and what it means to be human.  While Samantha was a machine, she exhibited the same emotions felt by everyday people.  She had the same fears, hopes, and dreams of someone characterized as a human, yet she was a machine.  This gave way for personal reflection upon our own selves and what characterizes something as human and why we fear what we fear.  A major insecurity of Samantha’s throughout the film is that she does not have a body, yet the way she feels this fear mirrors society’s own insecurities about body imperfections.

An interesting factor in Her is the entirely substance based relationship.  There is no surface level attraction to beauty when it comes to Theodore and Samantha’s relationship, making this a peculiar film in an industry based on looks.  The only indication of Samantha’s appearance is her voice, which does not indicate much.  Relationships like this are entirely rare and refreshing in film.  Theodore fell in love with Samantha not because she had a symmetrical face or the correct body proportions but because she had a good personality and made him happy and comfortable.

Another interesting aspect of the film is dependency on technology.  When you go to the mall or a restaurant and look at groups of people, more times than not you will see the people on their phones or at least with their phones on the table or in their hands.  The dependency on technology has resulted where we don’t even need to interact with people if we have our phones.  Theodore has his phone with him in his shirt pocket in a majority of the scenes throughout Her, held up by a safety pin so it stays in place.  There is one scene where Theodore is looking around and almost everyone has their phone out and is by themselves seen talking, and it is assumed that they are talking to their own personalized operating systems lacking a need for human interaction.

Departing from the interesting themes in Her, the film itself was beautiful with an equally beautiful score.  Without spoken words, the cinematography could convey the tone of a scene and the score enhanced that experience.  The small supporting cast consisting of Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, and Chris Pratt who all shined for the small moments they were on screen.  Every centered actor involved made you feel emotions that spanned the gamut which ended in a well put together film from every angle.  Personally, I had to sit in the theater moments after the last shot faded to the credits because I was so astounded by the beauty of everything I had just seen.  When the reviews say it is one of the best films of the past year, they aren’t exaggerating.  Her comments in depth on our current time and our current feelings.  If we look back on the movies of 2013 decades from now, Her will have encapsulated our emotions, fears, and desires.  It will make future generations understand what it was like to be alive and in love during this time.  In Her, Spike Jonze gives us the film we need at this very moment which is a beautiful and refreshing take on humanity and life.


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