Why Her is Awesome

“A heart-crushing look at life and the future of love”

You can say many things about the bizarre career of Jaoquin Pheonix - particularly regarding his ‘retirement’ from acting in 2008 to “pursue a career as a rapper”, which ultimately turned out to be a stunt that led to a strange mockumentary titled I’m Still Here – but you cannot deny that the man can act! With an impressive list of films in his portfolio, from Gladiator to Walk the Line, as well 3 Oscar nominations to his name there is no denying his talent, and now it seems we can add Her to his ever growing list of great films.

Her tells the story of Theodore Twombly, a broken-hearted man who has become very closed off from the world since his separation from his wife and childhood sweetheart Catherine (Rooney Mara). Set in the year 2025, Theodore writes personal love letters for people who have difficulty sharing their emotions, and lives a mundane life consisting of nights alone playing video games (albeit holographic, motion controlled video games) and ignoring chances to see his friends. Theodore owns a personal in-ear computer system that provides him with news, emails, video clips, etc, and a synchronised pocket device that can do everything a computer or mobile device can nowadays and more, and is all voice controlled. He learns of a newly released Operating System (OS) that has complex artificial intelligence that gives it both a personality and the ability to learn. Upon completion of installing the new OS, Theodore is asked whether he would like a male or female personality for his new OS; he chooses female, and so Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) is born.

 

“Theodore installing the life-changing and beautifully voiced OS, Samantha”

His life is instantly reinvigorated by Samantha, who not only provides him with everything his computer would normally, but also is a companion and friend providing advice and support in his troubled life. The relationship between them is not one of a man and his computer but something much more than that; he is constantly in conversation with her about his day and the things she gets up to when he turns his device off. His close friend Amy (Amy Adams), who is constantly attempting to help him out of his depression with invites to parties and social events, attempts to set Theodore up with an acquaintance (Olivia Wilde), and after Samantha advises him to attend he goes through with it. The date goes successfully, but he reveals that he cannot commit due to his deep seeded depression with regards to his ex-wife and their divorce, and so goes home alone. When Samantha comes online to enquire about his evening, it leads to a heartfelt conversation and ends up with the pair becoming intimate in a strange, blacked-out love scene. From here, Theodore and Samantha maintain a “standard” relationship almost as if she was a real person and not a computer. There are a mixed set of emotions from the people in his life surrounding the relationship, from Amy being supportive and happy for him - and who even develops a relationship of her own with another OS - to his ex-wife who is appalled by it and believes he is with the OS due to him lacking the ability to handle real human emotions.

 

“Amy and Theodore enjoy the future of technology”

The writer, producer and director, Spike Jonze, has not only created an incredibly deep and meaningful relationship between a man and a machine, but – perhaps surprisingly - an incredibly real one that is fully believable in this near-future setting. Samantha opens up Theodore's eyes to the world again and drags him from his slump, making him into a better man that can finally face his emotions regarding his divorce. This is definitely one of the best character pieces I have ever seen and this is due to both the simple, but compelling storytelling and the superb acting involved; Jaoquin Pheonix is sublime as always, and really shows off his ability to display the kind of deep emotions that Theodore has towards his wife, Samantha and his life in general - a performance that has gone unnoticed by the Oscars as he was snubbed for a Best Actor nomination. Even though Scarlett Johansson is never seen in the film, her role is outstanding and succeeds in making a computer system into a person with needs and feelings. The supporting cast have much smaller parts in the film but still provide crucial moments that progress the plot and show off the contrasting opinions that would arise in this situation.

Spike Jonze has succeeded in creating an emotionally complex, twisted outlook on reality in a truly memorable love story that is fully worth the price of a trip to the cinema. Though Jaoquin Pheonix was snubbed for an Oscar nomination, the film itself has picked up 5 nominations, including nods for Best picture and original screenplay.

Final Score: 8/10

This has been Deedsy for The Awesome Update, over and out,

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