By: Annapurna Pictures
Seen on: February 23
There is a reason Her is nominated for as many awards as it is. And I don’t know where to start listing them all. I knew it was going to be a special film after seeing the trailer, but it was so much more than that. It was magnificent.
Her is sweet, tender, kind, sad, lonely, intense, and thrilling without ever becoming a cliché or a drag. Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore is sensitive and sweet without ever becoming a wimp or a loser. Scarlett Johansson’s Samantha is curious and decidedly female for a computer, without ever becoming childish or a nag. Amy Adams’ Amy is sad and quirky without ever becoming desperate or just plain weird. Spike Jonze and all the actors hit the nail on the head with every single thing.
The story is about Theodore, who works at BeautifulHandwrittenLetters.com as a writer. He broke up with his wife almost a year ago, but he hasn’t signed the divorce papers yet because he can’t move on. In his own words, he likes being married. And then he sees and ad for OS1, a new operating system that learns from you and adapts to become extremely compatible with you. Despite knowing Theodore will inevitably fall in love with his OS, that names herself Samantha when they “meet”, it is still a fantastic journey to take along with Theodore. Again, perfect way of dealing with something that could have been one big cliché.
The premise of the film is interesting. An OS that sounds like a person, learns from you and adapts itself to fit you better and better until it is perfect for you. It’s not as far away as we think. Scientists say it might even be by 2020. Just imagine that for a second when you watch this film.
Anyway, Theodore buys the OS and despite some initial weirdness at the beginning, who wouldn’t feel a little weird, he embraces the new OS. Samantha. Her. Slowly, but surely, Theodore starts to smile again. He starts to walk straighter, sleep better, deliver better work. Basically, he comes back to life. Samantha, beautifully voiced by Scarlett Johansson, undergoes an equally moving transformation, going from a blank OS with just the emotions and instincts her programmers gave her, to a real person, be it without body. They both grow together, but inevitably something has to go wrong. Don’t forget, one is human and the other a computer. And despite it being more normal in Theodore’s future than it is right now to have these OS’s, having a relationship with an OS is still considered rare.
The trouble starts when Theodore goes on a blind date. Samantha gets jealous for the first time and doesn’t know how to handle that. And Theodore’s blind date (Olivia Wilde) turns out to be clingy and overbearing and Theodore doesn’t know how to properly handle that. It’s the first of many cracks in their relationship. There is one jarring, awkward scene where Samantha tries to use a surrogate body for Theodore to have sex with and pretend it is her. And when Theodore finally asks the questions we have all asked ourselves, but he hasn’t because he is in love and blind. “Am I the only one for you?”
It is a relationship. The beauty of this film is how they show Theodore going out with Samantha like he would with any other woman. They go out, have sex, go on trips and even a double date with friends. The slight strangeness of there not being a fourth person stays, but it adds to the feeling and atmosphere. It is supposed to be there, otherwise we would forget what was really going on. And that it was always doomed to fail.
The film doesn’t end the way I expected though. I really thought they’d eventually see it wouldn’t work and Theodore would unplug Samantha. Instead, Samantha says all the OS’s need to go. She doesn’t explain why, and I would have liked to have known (one of the few minor complaints I have), and then all OS’s disappear, all at once. They get to say goodbye though and it is a really moving scene. But Theodore has grown and he doesn’t fall back into depression. Instead, he uses what Samantha taught him and uses it to move on.
“I never loved someone like I loved you.”
“Me neither. And now we know how.”
I have to say something about the opening scene. Theodore is in bed, we’re still being introduced to him, and he logs onto a chat room. He connects with a girl (SexyKitten) and engages in a bit of sex play. It is all going well, both of them well on their way to a nice release, when the girl shouts, “Yes, yes, yes! Take that dead cat and choke me with it! Take it and choke me! The dead cat!” Yes, you read that right. A dead cat. It is the sort of quirky that this film is. It’s lovely, funny, sweet, a little strange, but oh so good.