Where Does It Rank Among Other "Pronoun" Films? Right up there with Them and well ahead of She and It.
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Four Marvin the Paranoid Androids out of five.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Man falls in love with operating system, kills Sarah Connor.
Tagline: "A Spike Jonze love story."
Better Tagline: "Control-Alt-Masturbate."
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: In the not so distant future (next Sunday, AD?), a troubled and lonely young man named Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) purchases OS1, a new operating system that happens to be a fully intuitive AI. Theodore finds himself drawn to "Samantha" (Scarlett Johansson), entering a relationship that ends up being a lot less unusual then one might think.
"Critical" Analysis: "How do you share your life with someone?" This is the core question of Her, Spike Jonze's first solo screenwiting effort. That the someone in question is not actually a person, but -- as the marketing pitch goes -- an entity that "listens to you, understands you, and knows you" makes little difference here. And that's because Jonze has crafted something extremely rare in this era: a love story almost entirely free of cynicism, in a movie bereft of self-referential nonsense.
What's most surprising is how effective a simple story can be. Theodore and Samantha's "meet cute" consists of him learning how she selected her own moniker (from a book of 100,000 baby names in .2 seconds). They grow more affectionate as Samantha draws him out of his shell (Theodore's less than a year removed from a still painful divorce) and he, in turn, exposes her to more of the outside world.
And to keep things contemporaneous, their relationship matures through shared existential crises: Theodore worries he'll never feel anything new, while Samantha worries her feelings are nothing greater than the sum of 1s and 0s.
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Phoenix continues to demonstrate his considerable range. Theodore is the diametric opposite of The Master's Lancaster Dodd: vulnerable and timorous, yet soulful at the same time. Johansson, on the other hand, has the tough job of rendering herself appealing using nothing but her voice, which she accomplishes with surprising ease (and part of me hopes the company that created her ripped off Syrius Cybernetics' motto in their OS1 ad campaign).
Jonze's direction, ironically reminisncent of the travelogue style ex-wife Sofia Coppola employed in Lost in Translation, is captivating. And upbeat. This near future is a lot more inviting than the dystopia we've been led to expect. Admittedly, a childhood spent watching 2001, The Black Hole, and The Terminator has made me leery of artificial intelligence. There's no SkyNet at the end of Her, though for Theodore, what takes place may be far worse.
I enjoyed Her. Everything from Jonze's not so subtle use of coloring (warm oranges at the outset, cooling to a darker palette as Theodore's relationship with Samantha chills) to the depiction of technology as something not so much sinister as increasingly vital to our often alienated existence.
Her is in theaters today. See it with your plastic pal who's fun to be with.