At the beginning of Her we are immediately greeted with our future, a world not too dissimilar from the one we live in today. There are more skyscrapers, our fashion has changed slightly, and the technology we so frequently use has advanced, yet in a perfectly realistic way. It is neither the utopia nor dystopia we are so accustomed to seeing in film depictions of the future. It just is what it is.
The writer-director Spike Jonze invites us to get lost in the beautifully romantic narrative in which Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with his personal operating system or ‘OS’, Samantha (Scarlett Johansson). Theodore has a job at ‘Beautiful Handwritten Letters’, a job that entails him writing personal love letters for people to give to their significant others. The compassion and empathy he shows in his letter writing is something that he can’t seem to transfer to his own life after his impending divorce from wife (Rooney Mara). But as soon as the ‘OS’, Samantha, is installed into his life we see a gentle electricity give new energy to Theodore, the result of which is a love story that is at times bizarre and somewhat uncomfortable, at others comical, but overridingly romantic, gentle and passionate.
The movie centres on the idea that nothing is the same as it was a moment ago, whether human or electronic, and it invites us to consider our fears around the notion that technology might well be evolving faster than we are ourselves. More importantly it redefines how we perceive love; is love something that can only be shared between living breathing humans, or will one day we fall in love with artificial intelligences very different from ourselves?
You might think this film is a boring examination of philosophical ideas, but you’d be wrong. This is a film that is achingly funny at points, and heart-breakingly sad at others. The nuanced performance by Phoenix is fantastic whilst Johansson’s voice acting is a spectacular, worthy of wider recognition than she’s received. Her is by far one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time, and seeing as I watched The Lego Movie recently, that’s really saying something. I want to watch this film again. Right now. And I think you should see it too.