“Her” was written and directed by Spike Jonze, the man who produced all of the Jackass movies. Knowing this tidbit of information might make some moviegoers hesitant, but I assure you Mr. Jonze has many layers. A man who produced a film series, where grown men punch each other in the privates and dress as elderly men to perpetrate pranks, can still find another creative dimension for himself. Don’t get me wrong. I love the Jackass movies. I’ve seen them all in the theater. However, “Her” is a slightly different gear for Spike.
“Her” stars the unpredictable Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore Twombly (nice name right?), a heartsore man who has trouble connecting with people. Theodore is a writer by trade and decides he needs a new operating system to organize his life. This operating system (OS) is artificial intelligence and voiced by the perfect Scarlett Johansson.
Don’t worry folks the spoilers I’m about to touch upon were in the trailer so don’t be afraid to keep reading.
Our hero Theodore begins to fall in love with his OS and starts to experience something he hasn’t in a long time. “Samantha” is the name this unique operating system gives herself and she’s somewhat of a genius, clean slate. I’m aware that sounds like an oxymoron, but let me go a little deeper:
Knowledge isn’t experience; wisdom and answers are not synonymous with memories or living. You can ask Google how tall is the Empire State building is, but Google has never climbed to the observation deck. Artificial intelligence has never had the feeling a strong wind wash over it’s whole body, begging them to look over the edge and gaze upon the city. It can’t see people seemingly miles away or the buildings and lights stretching as far as the eye can see – almost as if in a dream. Google will only tell you the Empire State Building is 1,250 feet tall.
Samantha is a blank canvas, who is starving to learn and experience everything. That’s what makes Theodore fall deeply for her. Her thirst for life and eagerness to figure out what it is or can be changes our protagonist Theodore into a new man – a better man.
Many people have written off this movie because its premise is strange or “creepy,” but I beg those of you thinking that way to open your mind and give “Her” a chance.
Joaquin Phoenix is an odd bird, but is most likely a super genius that nobody fully understands, like an Andy Kaufman. He is the type of actor who becomes the character 100 percent. He doesn’t just read the script and phone it in for two hours. Phoenix truly becomes Theodore and completely captivates the audience, and all without them even knowing it.
Partway though the movie, I started to feel the emotions his character was going through. When he was excited, I felt genuinely happy. When he was hurt, I could feel his pain. The performance wasn’t just acting; it was possession of each person watching the film – like a spirit infiltrating your body and forcing you to become someone else. At times, those feelings were so intense I became uncomfortable as an audience member. Alas, leaving ones comfort zone is how you learn whom you truly are.
It says so much that just the soothing, innocent, excitable and passionate voice of Scarlett Johansson could stand alone without the presence of her gorgeous face and body. An actress, who perhaps is pigeonholed by her beauty, is often forgotten as a legitimate talent. Johansson showed what she was capable of in “Her.”
The endlessly lovable and talented Amy Adams found her way in this movie, as she seems to do more and more in Hollywood, and I am not complaining. She plays Theodore’s friend, Amy (yup no name change), and seems to be experiencing a similar connection with her operating system – minus the falling madly in love part.
“Her” takes place in what seems like a not-too-distant future and might not be too far off base from our imminent reality. This story is probably the most unique love story I’ve ever witnessed. The scariest part of falling in love is not fully knowing who you are – never mind someone else. The fear takes over. Some run, but some brave the storm inside themselves and give in to that fucked up thing we all call “love” for better or worse.
Why can’t a person feel that for an artificially intelligent being? I myself have fallen for many beings who weren’t intelligent in any way (in my youth, I mistook wanting to get laid for love like so many others have). “Her” is a modern take on romance that hasn’t really been explored just yet. Nothing about this story is too far fetched, which is fairly insane.
We live in an era where questions can be answered in a heartbeat, but life is infinitely more confusing, like a digital renaissance where no singular person has the answers. You know everything with the touch of a screen. However, life is experience not just knowledge. Theodore re-learns this from Samantha and her desire for experiencing what it means to be present and not just all knowing.
This movie showed us one must love themselves comfortably before they can love another. A deep concept for a movie to tackle, but one that Jonze attempts and succeeds at in spades. It has been thoroughly difficult to review this movie without reviewing how people love one another (intense right? Stick around because I’m not done yet).
After experiencing this movie, I learned that hearts don’t break at all. They crack and split. Those holes and tears can be filled and stitched by friends, family and inspiration. You can once again become whole and face the war of love bravely and optimistically ,because a heart refuses to break. It can only learn, adapt and keep fighting. Weather that means loving a woman, a man, a concept, an operating system, a piece of art or just yourself, it still requires courage.
Because of the immense effect the movie had on me, I give “Her” 4 heart shaped sugar cookies with extra frosting and wash it all down with a glass bottle of coke. Why a glass bottle? Because the shape reminds me of Scarlett Johansson – curves in all the right places.
Thanks for reading, folks. Keep smiling.