Her starts out with Theodore, a basic white male down in the dumps because he's socially inept. Haven't heard that one before. Because of his social ineptitude, his wife divorced him and even after a year since the divorce was declared, he still can't sign the papers. Shocker. To dig himself out of his hole, he buys an OS device and chooses to give it a female voice. His own manic pixie dream girl. Where have I seen this before? The OS names herself Samantha and she and Theodore start out as friends, but of course, turn into lovers later on. This proves to help Theodore because he's finally able to let go of his ex wife, but his dependence on Samantha grows stronger and he's unable to live a "normal" life. Samantha ends up having her own character arc and isn't just there to serve Theodore, and the thousands of other human companions that she's also fallen in love with. Her story arc is to grow and learn as AI does, and discover her own wants and capabilities. Theodore, for some reason, feels betrayed after learning Samantha has been talking with other humans. I guess he didn't realize the OS is open to whoever can pay for it. Anyway, they end it on a happy note and Samantha finishes her manic pixie dream girl arc as well as her own arc by joining the technological singularity. Theodore ends his arc like any man in a manic pixie dream girl movie, by realizing that he had it in him all along, all he needed was a woman to show him the way.
Even though this movie is extremely bland, Scarlett Johansson's voice is amazing. It feels as though she's in the room with Theodore, but of course, she's not. Even so, you can imagine her waking him up every morning, or holding his hand, or even doing it with him (the first time, not with the poor girl that was dragged into their relationship who had to pretend to be Samantha). This movie reminds me of RealDolls (the highest line of sex dolls available - mainly the dolls are designed as female, but they also have some male ones), but for emotional support, and the best part is that she's not real. When she does become "real" it's actually extremely disturbing and wrong. Just like with the dolls, the best part is that they are not real too. In both cases, the women are there. You either have their voices or their bodies, but the best part, for men who have boughten the dolls or for Theodore, is they either don't have a body or don't have a mind. It seems as though we can't appreciate women as whole beings. They're either sex dolls in your home that can't talk, or AI that can lift you up when you're down, but not physically be with you. So when women are physically with men, they should shut up, and when they're talking they better just be a voice in the man's head. No matter how much Samantha has agency of her own - she eventually chooses to leave Theodore to pursue a higher purpose - she's still just what men want her to be. She's there to serve Theodore. She might as well just be a sex doll. She's no different than any other fembot we've seen before.
Just a little gripe I have with the movie is the one earbud thing. Why just one?! Doesn't that make people more sensitive in one ear than the other. Also, the styling of the movie is okay, but it's nothing we haven't seen before. Pastel colors, a too happy future, etc. The music also didn't do it for me. It was like 500 Days of Summer, but in the future with AI. I also think the connection that forms between Samantha and Theodore isn't very emotional. Not because Samantha wasn't physically there, but because they had no prior connection. The strongest AI films always have the AI knowing the person before hand. As seen in West World, or Be Right Back from Black Mirror. It always goes deeper than just a first hand connection.
Overall, I give the film a 4/10. There's no drama, and when there is, it's cliched and contrived. Theodore is just a drunk mess and every white straight cis male going through a divorce we've seen already. Lastly, Samantha just reinforces what we already knew about men and their eventual plans for AI and to a great extent, women.
But on the other hand, I feel like the human experience was not properly portrayed. The film seemed to focus on the human traits of love and human growth, especially growing with a person and then outgrowing them. In the world of the film the plot and the ending are perfectly believable and can be accepted by audiences. But as a whole, I feel like the film did not properly reflect human life and experience. There were many emotions and needs that were not addressed to the fullest, such as empathy, physical affection, intuition, aspirations, impulsiveness, the play between pride and humility, and most of all selfless love. The greatest achievement of human experience is sacrificing for the one you love. Of course, if this aspect of human emotion was included in the film, it would've been completely different. Instead of being a film about the difficulties in the need for connection, it would've been a film about the need for selfless love and understanding. This isn't to say that I didn't enjoy the film, as I said it was brilliantly done and I highly recommend it. But it is like looking at a masterpiece and seeing what could've been it the human aspect of the film had been more complicated and well-rounded.
Phoenix is at his understated best and Scarlett Johansson lends her warm, charming vocals, achieving quite a feat, making the audience care about a disembodied voice. It's feel-good, but also bittersweet, it's funny but also beautifully poetic. One of my favorites.
A good movie, could have been better? probably, but it was one of the best movies I saw in the past years. ?
Spike Jonze takes the helm for this comedy about a withdrawn writer (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his computer's highly advanced operating system.
I feel like I have to give the upmost applause to movies like this. "Her" is such a weird yet interesting concept. It's filmmakers such as Spike Jonze that constantly surprise me, and inspire me to reach out farther with my own screenplays. This movie is totally weird and definitely out there, but it's really effective and a more compelling love story than most films these days.
This movie is filled with a talented cast. Joaquin Phoenix was fantastic as the lead male actor. Shining with his moustache and all, he definitely captures that character persona with his awkwardness and comedy. Scarlett Johansson did great in her voice over. She's done multiple roles with solely voice acting, and I think she really excels in that role. Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, and Chris Pratt all round out the ensemble here, and they all come together to give us great performances.
The screenplay was really well written, even if it was definitely awkward and weird at times. There were some truly funny moments in this film, funnier than I actually expected it to be. There were also other moments where I'm glad I wasn't watching this film with more than one person, because I cannot imagine how awkward it would've been. But besides all that, it's a love story that's really effective, one that delves deeper into relationships between people and what love really means. It doesn't do it in a cliche way, but it is ridiculous when you really look at it ( ridiculous in a good way). Still, I was attached to the story and I was rooting for the characters within the situation.
In the end, this is definitely a strange film, but one that does its job well. It's a great addition to the A.I. genre, as well as the romance drama.
GREG: (Greg Smith, Founder of Agile Writers of Richmond, VA) No, Scott. We re reviewing Her. Spike Jonez 2013 Christmas offering about a man who falls in love with his computer. Let s recap...
SCOTT: We meet Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), who composes loving letters for a living at beautifully handwritten notes dot com. Theodore has been down in the dumps for almost a year, ever since his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara) left him. He is a sensitive man who feels deeply, but he seems unable, and maybe even unwilling, to connect with people at an emotional level.
GREG: Then one day he gets a new Operating System (OS) for his phone that is voice-controlled and responds via a bud he keeps in his ear. This OS is different from previous ones - it is tailored to his personality and is the latest in Artificial Intelligence (AI). This OS will learn and adapt. Theodore is so taken with his new AI (named Samantha and voiced by Scarlett Johansson) that he begins to fall in love with it.
SCOTT: Greg, Her is a movie that drives home a point that we ve known for a long time, namely, the idea that our internet gadgets and software separate people from each other more than they bring people together. Her also takes this idea to a new level by introducing an operating system that can develop a human personality which can feel love and return it in kind an innovation that potentially renders human-to-human relationships unnecessary. Joaquin Phoenix has an especially demanding role here, as Samantha s disembodied voice means that Phoenix has very long stretches of screen time by himself. He does a masterful job of expressing the joy and pain of a relationship, even if the relationship is with a highly charming and sophisticated operating system. Scarlett Johansson also deserves great kudos for using only her voice to create a highly memorable character. One might say that Theodore and Samantha are buddy heroes and/or romantic heroes. They each start out with missing qualities and must take risks to grow and to evolve.
GREG: I thought that what Her had to offer was that relationships are difficult no matter who they are with. The relationship that Theodore has with Samantha is much like relationships he has had with other women. They start out very easy-going and get more intimate until finally they become complex as the needs and expectations of both parties are stressed. Her also brings home the point that physical presence is increasingly unnecessary in relationships. I m sure you ve heard of people falling in love in Internet chat rooms and getting married without ever having met. Her takes this to the next level by having one of the parties not even have a physical body.
SCOTT: For me, Her is a movie about the plight of modern humans who are overly dependent on technology to meet their social and emotional needs. Sadly, there are many scenes in Her that mimic modern-day reality. Masses of people on the streets are walking alone yet talking to some distant entity is it a real person or another operating system like Samantha? We re not sure, and it almost doesn t matter, because either way they are foregoing any opportunity for real-flesh contact by focusing instead on an electronic connection. The result is pervasive loneliness and isolation on a massive societal level. The hero journeys of Theodore and Samantha are fascinating to watch. I must admit that I wasn t sure how these journeys were going to unfold. Yes, people get hurt and in the pain there is growth. You re right, Greg, that complications arise in a deepening relationship, and this movie is populated by characters who cannot handle those complications. And so shallow relationships are often the norm, and in one hilarious scene a shallow relationship features the creative use of a dead cat.
GREG: I m not sure I agree with you Scott. Theodore had personal relationships with several people in this film. Among them his best friend Amy (Amy Adams) who is in a real relationship with a man who doesn t treat her well. The theme that I get from Her is that even the ideal person is going to be difficult to deal with. There is going to be give and take no matter who you are with. From the point of view of a Hero s Journey, we see Theodore go from being a complete loner to actually going out with friends on double dates. The real people he meets are not able to carry on real relationships. Samantha gives him the strength to be among us. In the end Theodore grows from his experiences with Samantha and is a better person for them.
SCOTT: Her is a terrific movie that forces us to think about the potentially useful -- and harmful -- effects of technology on relationships. The film raises many questions: Are we nearing the point where relationships with computers will replace human relationships? How overly dependent and addicted are we to computers to fulfill our emotional needs? Her made me think and it also made me feel a rare feat for a move these days. I m happy to award Her 4 Reels out of 5. The hero journeys of Theodore and Samantha are complicated but satisfying. As you suggest, Greg, these two characters help each other transform in meaningful ways. They do this through love and, ironically, through the betrayal of that love. There is a sweet tenderness to their relationship that is both satisfying and chilling to me. In the end, they grow in meaningful ways that leave us pondering the role of technology in our emotional lives. I give these two characters 4 Heroes out of 5. Movie: Hero:
GREG: We re in agreement that Her is a terrific movie. Spike Jonez pulled all the stops in the production values. The color schemes and fashion all predict a near-future world where computers are ubiquitous. I cant see how this movie could have been made better. I give the movie 5 out of 5 Reels. The hero story here is layered and complex. I enjoyed watching the relationship grow and mature. I didn t get the doomsday ending that is so often the result of computers-meet-humans in the movies. I give Her 4 out of 5 Heroes as well. Movie: Hero:
Takes too long to get anywhere.
Honestly, it was a great idea, but poorly executed and stupid to me.
I wanted to like it, but ended up shutting it off half way thru.