Her: A Funny Relationship Drama About Your Love Affair with Your Phone

Her: A Funny Relationship Drama About Your Love Affair with Your Phone

HER Man seeks Siri.

Despite the dangerously high-concept premise—"a man falls in love with Siri"—Her is one of the best science-fiction movies I've seen in a good long while. It's not flashy rockets-and-robots sci-fi: The artificial intelligence that Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix, rumpled and wearing a big, friendly, Vonnegut-like mustache) falls in love with feels less like a quantum leap ahead of Google Now and Siri, and more like a couple of well-paced quantum skips. But the AI, which immediately names itself Samantha, is voiced by Scarlett Johansson with remarkable warmth. Once Twombly powers her into existence, she's chipper like an enthusiastic retail employee, but she quickly grows fond of him. It's such an organic progression that only the most cynical viewers will fight it.

Her's gorgeous near-future is full of the casual wonders of technology. Video games are holographic, high-speed rail stretches out into the wilds of California, and Los Angeles is a beautiful collection of towers aglow with interesting slants of daylight. But even in the future, people still fall in and out of love. They hunker down on the subway, muttering quietly to their phones as they try to shut out the world. They stare at the inscrutable faces of strangers on the sidewalk and wonder what it's like to be outside their own body for even a second.

That problem of consciousness relates directly to Twombly as he interacts mostly with women—his ex-wife (Rooney Mara), a blind date (Olivia Wilde, in the worst sequence in the film), a neighbor going through relationship drama of her own (the incredible Amy Adams), and Samantha—but he seems to think of them only in relation to himself. He has no problem thinking of Samantha as a woman, but whether he thinks of women as human beings is still a subject for debate. Technology, Spike Jonze proves in his first solo script, can't solve our problems, but it certainly can help us rephrase them. recommended


Comments (19) RSS

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Great review, Paul! Couldn't agree more - this is solid sci-fi, the kind that Dick or Lem would have written. Spike Jonze knocked this one out of the park. ...his casting choices certainly didn't hurt the chances of success, either.
Posted by Keep my OS dumb on December 28, 2013 at 9:28 AM · Report this
danewood 2
Really wonderful movie. Smart sci-fi with metaphors, parables and satires about our modern life but which is, at it's heart, just a simple story about the human condition. Spike Jonze displays his mastery here. Joaquin Phoenix paints such a human picture in his portrayal, easily drawing the viewer in and gently guiding them through the picture. One of my favorites of the year.
Posted by danewood on December 28, 2013 at 12:29 PM · Report this
notaboomer 3
not even close to a vonnegut:…
Posted by notaboomer on December 28, 2013 at 12:56 PM · Report this
danewood 4
Not sure how your comment is even relevant @3 since this movie wasn't trying to be a Vonnegut....
Posted by danewood on December 28, 2013 at 1:13 PM · Report this
Paul said that Phoenix had a "Vonnegut-like mustache". That's how the comment 3 is relevant.
Posted by Lalala on December 28, 2013 at 1:28 PM · Report this
Only the most cynical viewers will fight how like Vonnegut the mustache is.
Posted by xizar on December 28, 2013 at 1:57 PM · Report this
disintegrator 7
One photograph does not a moustache make.

Posted by disintegrator on December 28, 2013 at 2:45 PM · Report this
disintegrator 8
Though that one is a little more 'Walter White' the more I look at it...
Posted by disintegrator on December 28, 2013 at 2:46 PM · Report this
yelahneb 9
@5 I mustache you to please focus on the film
Posted by yelahneb on December 28, 2013 at 2:56 PM · Report this
tainte 10
mustache is only there to cover the hairlip
Posted by tainte on December 28, 2013 at 3:00 PM · Report this
MrBaker 11
I was concerned that the ideas to be discussed would get destroyed by poor storytelling.
The social debates about cellphones in restaurants were quaint. There have been excuses for the intrusion of technology into the public sphere, often that some-body was on the other end of that unknowingly interruptive telephone call. The consuming of time on social media (as if there is a different kind) is often moderated by who and when you are socializing with.

Remove the somebody, and the questions come back to who we are.

I look forward to seeing it.
Posted by MrBaker on December 28, 2013 at 3:03 PM · Report this
I got burned by this retelling of Pygmalion when it was titled "S1m0ne", so maybe I'll skip this one.
Posted by robotslave on December 28, 2013 at 3:44 PM · Report this
Hilariously, the Times called this a "rom-com" which it is not. It has humor, oddly high-waisted, high-water pants for men, and people who write letters for other people get paid a lot and live in great apartments.

There were some moments of greatness (and Joaquim can't turn a bad performance if he tried) but it just didn't hang together for me until the very end.
Posted by westello on December 28, 2013 at 4:55 PM · Report this
tainte 14
"can't turn a bad performance if he tried"

the ghost of johnny cash would like to have a word with you.
Posted by tainte on December 29, 2013 at 7:57 AM · Report this
#5 I have a brother in law with a mustache like that one and every time I see him I want to take my bic lighter to it.
Posted by longwayhome on December 31, 2013 at 9:40 PM · Report this
reverend dr dj riz 16
i love his hairlip.
Posted by reverend dr dj riz on January 2, 2014 at 12:41 PM · Report this
This is probably the best film of the year, and that's saying something. Interesting that Paul thought the blind date sequence with Olivia Wilde was it's weak spot. The only thing I'd have changed was the casting of Rooney Mara as the ex-wife. Part of the story is that Theodore and his ex are the same age and have supposedly grown up together. Mara could pass for Phoenix's daughter.
Posted by Amanda on January 15, 2014 at 2:20 AM · Report this
"Her" is what you would call cinematic alchemy: making something from nothing. An extremely slight, whimsical story about (spoiler alert!! << 2 exclamation points) an operating system that grows up and leaves her high school boy friend at home. Perfectly realized as a big-budget Hollywood vehicle (high powered commercial cast, global location shooting, meticulous digital integration of all the elements) this movie is a glimpse of the future. Make of that what you will. I found it soporific in parts but couldn't help admire, upon reflection, the conceptual magic that made it seem real.
Posted by James Early on January 19, 2014 at 7:49 AM · Report this
I was reluctantly expecting a rom-com but was so totally delighted when the sci-fi elements turned the story into something smart. Loved it. But hated his mustache.
Posted by rubus on February 9, 2014 at 3:44 PM · Report this

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