Her (2013): A Spike Jonze Love Story

Posted: January 14, 2014 in Comedy, Drama, Romance

herStill challenged by his pending divorce, Theodore Twombly discovers that a new operating system (OS1) has been released and immediately gets himself one. He answers a couple of personal questions as the OS1 installs, leaving himself with a female partner, Samantha. Initially enamored by the idea of a sexy voice listening and reacting to him, Theodore tries to expose her to as much as he possibly can. As Samantha continues to grow and evolve, Theodore realizes that her programming is not as simple as a call and response arrangement. Samantha becomes more and more sentient, leaving Theodore questioning the idea of living a real relationship between people and operating systems like her.

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix (Theodore Twombly), Scarlett Johansson (Samantha), Amy Adams (Amy), Chris Pratt (Paul), Rooney Mara (Catherine), Kristen Wiig (SexyKitten), Matt Letscher (Charles), Spike Jonze (Alien Child), Olivia Wilde (Blind Date), Portia Doubleday (Surrogate Date Isabella)

Produced in many pieces, some of the acting had to occur without characters ever truly meeting. This was the case for Johansson, who was approached by Jonze during post-production and had small opportunities to work with Jonze and Phoenix. In spite of this, she impressively is captivating and engaging. For Joaquin, his character may be reserved but has a life about him that travels through a range of emotions and challenging life moments. Adams, Pratt, Mara, and Wilde each also add their own flare to the film.


Spike Jonze essentially told the story of the complicated concept of love through two conflicting experiences. Theodore’s perspective was one that had already experienced love and loss. His marriage to Catherine fell under dark times, as the childhood friends lost the magic they once had and allowed the negative aspects of their personalities distance themselves. He had not moved on when he was surprised to meet Samantha. Though he was weirded out by the adaptive nature of her OS, he continued to play into the experiment. He even allowed himself to experiment with an uncomfortable situation because Samantha discovered the concept of wanting. When confronted by Samantha’s continually evolving nature, Catherine’s frustration with him over lunch, and Amy’s supportive friendship, he is left to sort out his concept of love and living.

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On the other side of the experience was Samantha. Starting off as an OS looking to learn about the world around her, she quickly developed an interest in Theodore more than just as her operator. She grew through understanding Theodore’s life experiences and pushed him to help her feel more like a person. She even pushed him into sexual situations so that she could even have an idea of what the feelings appeared to be. As she began to expand beyond their 1:1 relationship, she quickly realized that he was not going to be enough for her individually but also did not have the human concept of monogamy to work from. He existence brought both the question of what makes a real relationship and are relationships limited to people as opposed to other sources.

This film had strong acting but an even more intriguing concept. It travels from sadness to humor to romance and finally a strange combination of sorrow and hope. Definitely will continue to get more Oscar attention.

Dan’s Rating: 4.5/5


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