Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Chris Pratt, Matt Letscher, Olivia Wilde, Artt Butler, May Lindstrom, and more.
Directed by: Spike Jonze Written by: Spike Jonze Cinematography by: Hoye Van Hoytema Music by: Arcade Fire Additional Music by: Owen Pallett
Premise: Still suffering after the unexpected end of his marriage, Theodore is depressed and in denial. When he sees an ad for a new artificial intelligence OS, he buys it in the hopes of gaining a companion, even if only a programmed one. ‘Samantha’ however, ends up becoming more than he ever expected. (Rated R)
1) Acting – Thumbs Up: Joaquim Phoenix did a good job as the emotionally stunted and unhappy Theodore, and an even better one projecting against a tiny, portable electronic device. Scarlett Johnasson was fabulous as the voice of Samantha, her voice came across so filled with emotion it didn’t matter that she wasn’t physically there.
2) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: The story of Theodore and his growing relationship with Samantha is very much an introspective on what makes relationships, but also the definitions of what make us human. This film definitely won’t be for everyone, as it is very subjective, and much is left for the audience to decide or envision.
The pace was slow, though I didn’t find it inordinately so. The science was a little ‘iffy’, but again not overtly so. There were many moments filled with humor, and several scenes where something normal was made surreal.
Theodore’s job was mind boggling – getting paid to write (with minimal information) other people’s letters to family, spouses, and friends. Some of them had been hiring the firm for so long, Theodore helped build the back story to details or affectations they looked back at fondly years later.
Oddly, while incredibly expressive in these letters, in his own life, Theodore is unable to express himself well at all.
Various themes run solidly through the story, most circling around relationships. The next biggest one is not obvious right away, but takes center stage by the end of the film – personal growth.
One of the most endearing characters in the film was voiced by Spike Jonze himself – a little alien boy from Theodore’s 3D game. Watching Theodore, the alien boy, and Samantha all interact together was an unexpected treat.
3) Locations/Cinematography – Total Thumbs Up: Set in the near future, the choices for locations for the different scenes were excellent. Theodore’s apartment has a fantastic view, as if he can see the world but is protected from it by the glass around him. His furniture and decor were half hazard, as if it too suffered from his malaise.
There are vistas from Shanghai and California, and many of them taken from outstanding vantage points. What was around Theodore whenever he ventured out was as entertaining, and sometimes more so, than what was going on.
4) Music – Total Thumbs Up: I totally loved how they integrated the music accompanying the film into the story itself. They did this by making them selections Theodore made, or music created by Samantha to preserve poignant moments. It all fit very well.
Conclusion: “her” is a deep introspective on relationships and personal growth. It’s also an odd film. Some will find it worthwhile, but others wont. Either way though, it was definitely thought provoking.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Better for Matinee)