Movie review: Her

Dateline: student newspaper

By: Margaret Kaehler

File Under: entertainment, her, movie

Spike Jonze’s newest film starring Joaquin Phoenix has been getting a lot of buzz for its unique storyline: Phoenix, a gifted but introverted writer named Theodore, falls madly in love with the new operating system he has installed with a charismatic personality who goes by “Samantha,” voiced by Scarlett Johansson.

Samantha is more than any basic operating system we could imagine, considering this film takes place in a future where people seem to walk around speaking with their computers all day. She not only can communicate with Theodore like a human being, but can actually learn and develop like you and I.

Naturally, the two begin to grow close, and Theo opens up to her about his impending divorce, which earns Samantha’s sympathy. She encourages him to go on a blind date, set up by his friend Amy, played by Amy Adams. While the date seems to rocket off to a great start, it ends quickly when his date pushes him for commitment, but not before she gets one last jab in by calling Theodore “a creepy dude.”

After such a bad experience with genuine human interaction, Theodore begins to rely more on his friendship with Samantha. One night however, their relationship progresses from friendship to something more hard to pin down because Samantha lacks a body, a fact of which she is very self-conscious.

Amy tells Theo that she is leaving her husband, and is filling the void with a friendship she developed with her own operating system. Theo admits to Amy that he has begun dating his operating system, and Amy supports Theo’s happiness.

As their relationship progresses Samantha’s lack of a body becomes more of an issue in their relationship, things begin to feel difficult and Theo begins to worry that maybe their love isn’t so unique after all. 

Overall, this move has a compelling plot-line, with stunning performances from both Phoenix and Johansson, who relies only on her voice to convey Samantha’s emotions. Watching it is an interesting experience, because you get swept up in the romance between Theodore and Samantha, but at the same time, you can’t forget that Theo kind of is a “creepy dude.”

Her normalizes the relationship between humans and their operating systems by showing that Theo is not the only person to develop an attachment to his computer, yet his attachment is hard to swallow, because even if Samantha were a person, their relationship exhibits problems that wouldn’t be healthy between two humans. 

Overall, this bizarre, Oscar nominated flick is definitely worth watching.