Her Official Trailer 2014

Known for his seamless integration of special effects such as CGI film, Where the Wild Things Are, director Spike Jonze’s successfully pulled off the flashy holographic computer screens and realistic 3D graphics in video games in this futuristic tale.

The film recently bagged the Best Screenplay award at the Golden Globes Awards 2014, and has, deservingly, won 26 of its 83 nominations from various award shows till date. It was also prestigiously nominated as Best Film of 2013 at the 85th National Board of Review Awards.

Set in Los Angeles in the not-too-distant future, the film opens with Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) working in an office.

Nothing’s special there until, and this is where the sci-fi part kicks in – the camera pans to the back of Theodore, who’s shown mentally narrating the contents of a letter to his desktop computer, which is helping to materialize his thoughts on the screen.

You learn that the middle-aged man (his actual age is not stated) works as a writer at Beautiful Handwritten Letters, a company that pens personal letters for people who have difficulty expressing themselves.

Ironically,  our protagonist, a depressed shell of a once joyous man, is himself struggling with relationships, and bitter about his impending divorce to Catherine (Rooney Mara), who appears in various silent flashbacks he experiences throughout his day.

It’s in this broken state that the sentimental writer feels compelled to sign up for the OS1, the latest breakthrough in computer programming which is, in a nutshell, a much more advanced version of Apple’s Siri.

Designed to cater to its user’s needs, the husky-voiced Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), the OS1’s an operating system with artificial intelligence that responds like a sentient being, gives Theodore much solace.

What initially starts out as friendship gradually blossoms into an amorous romance between the 2, as Theodore finds himself gradually smitten with the inanimate but curiously funny Samantha.

Meanwhile, Theodore increasingly spends time with best friend Amy (Amy Adams), while she goes through a rough patch in her marriage with her unsupportive husband (Matt Letscher).

When Amy admits that she has established close relations with a female OS her husband left behind, Theodore opens up to Amy about his growing intimacy with Samantha. Amy, in return, is open and non-judgmental, and even brushes the situation off stating that “falling in love is socially acceptable weirdness” in the very first place.

Later, when he’s similarly candid with Catherine, she sarcastically points out that he’s finally found a wife without having to deal with the actual challenges of marriage.

This turn of events makes Theodore grow increasingly cold towards Samantha, making her jealous as a result.

When the ever-reliable Amy persuades him to do whatever makes him happy, Samantha reveals that she’s now in love with 641 others… .

While the film thrives on realistic special effects and brilliant use of soft lighting to effectively capture the mood of the main character, it’s the scripting by Jonze that indubitably pushed the show forward.

Allowing the quieter moments of Phoenix’s performance to breathe and Samantha to evolve from a character initially viewing the world in ones and zeros to one who understands and, more crucially, even feels the weight of human emotions, it promptly reminds us of previous films like Artificial Intelligence and Bicentennial Man that share this concept as well. The difference between Her and them? Doing without the physical presence of our 4-limbed steely friends, of course.

On the other hand, Phoenix’s transitioning from states of emotional duress, loneliness and uncertainty to unbridled joy and peace, is so brilliant and well calibrated in its nuance, that  you find yourself forgetting he’s the only one on-screen in his conversations with Samantha.

The film’s score was a commendable effort as well. Worked on by the Grammy-award winning group Arcade Fire, whose soft indie rock musical style complements the movie to a tee, several tracks such as  “Supersymmetry”and its soft croons of ‘I know you’re living in my mind, it’s not the same as being alive’,even have lyrics that fit the story.

While we’re trying to offer a balanced review, it’s hard to level complaints at Her. Sure, some characters feel hollow, but this story is not about them. It’s really all about Theodore and Samantha, and you may be hard pressed to find a more endearing romance in the cinemas this year.

Movie Name: Her
Rating: 5/5
Release Date: Jan 16, 2014
Runtime: 126 min
Language: English
Censorship: M18
Genre:  Romance, Science Fiction
Director: Spike Jonze

Actors: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams