The concept behind Spike Jonze’s newest flick ‘Her’ can be described as “out there” or “strange” or just plain “weird.” But if any Director/Writer can take a “weird” premise and make it something magical, it’s Jonze (think ‘Adaptation’ and ‘Being John Malkovich.’)
‘Her’ takes the classic (and overdone) boy-meets-girl motif, turns it upside down, spins it around, shakes it up and spits it out.
After seeing an advertisement for a new Operating System (OS) that can not only do all the things a computer usually does but also has a personality and a demeanor fit for its buyer, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) immediately buys and installs it. His OS is Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). Samantha is charismatic, intelligent, funny, helpful and encouraging. Just the thing Theodore needs. Since his divorce from Catherine (Rooney Mara), Theodore has been reclusive and anti-social. Samantha, although only a computer, shows Theodore how to enjoy life again.
Theodore’s relationship with Samantha grows and some, including his ex wife, find it strange that he might possibly be falling in love with a computer. But, others, including his close friend Amy (Amy Adams) finds it refreshing, as she’s found a new bestie in her OS Ally. Theodore and Amy aren’t the only ones to find friendship (or more) in their computer.
Set in the not to distant future in L.A., Jonze portrays a machine centric world, in which people have become so hooked into their electronics that it doesn’t seem odd that one would love their OS. Jonze paints his world in comforting hues yet portrays the helplessness of it all. The imagery, as that of Jonze’s ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ is beautiful and symbolic. ‘Her’ is dialogue heavy and Jonze takes advantage of this by breaking up the dialogue with flashbacks and picturesque scenes.
I saw ‘Her’ because I wanted to see what Spike Jonze did with this concept. With any other director and actors, I think it would have been laughable and a total disgrace. One thing I’ve always enjoyed about Jonze’s directing is his attention to visual details. He treats his dramatic movies as photographs and paintings, not just moving films, which results in beautiful scenes and images that don’t require action to keep viewers’ attention.
‘Her’ is a pleasant film, meant to open your eyes. Just like Theodore learns to live and love again; I believe Jonze wants all of his viewers to take that message away from this bizarre and beautiful love story.
‘Her’ has been nominated for Best Picture in this year’s Academy Awards.