“Her” Sophisticated Triumph

Emily Fong, Co-News Editor

Director Spike Jonze’s newest feature, the sci-fi comedy Her, debuted in theaters on December 18, 2013.

Her tells the story of Theodore Twombly, a recent divorcee struggling to make emotional connections with other people after his split. To remedy his sense of loneliness, he purchases an “OS” or intelligent computing system named Samantha, who eventually acquires sentience. The two become romantically attached due to Theodore’s isolation and Samantha’s increasing sophistication.

Her stars Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore and Scarlett Johansson as the voice of Samantha. Though Phoenix’s acting can be a little cheesy at times, he does a fantastic job of portraying the idea of a man who is, essentially, miserably alone in a city of millions.

One of the film’s greatest victories is its character development. Even the side characters like Theodore’s soon to be ex wife Catherine and his quirky friend Amy (played by Rooney Mara and Amy Adams, respectively) are fully fleshed out and complex people.

Extraordinary acting combined with Jonze’s visual expertise and a melodic, melancholy soundtrack provided by indie rock group Arcade Fire create one of the most memorable films I’ve seen so far.

The film focuses on the increasing gap between human individuals as they become more and more absorbed in technology. The themes of Her therefore help to form both an engaging narrative and a message that, I think, is especially pertinent for our generation. The world depicted in Her is a subtle dystopia, one that lacks human intimacy and where alienation is abundant. Jonze’s movie-scape is one that is familiar yet unnervingly distinct to its audience.

For me, Her is a film of contrasts. Theodore is man that shuns physical reality for false emotional fulfillment, while Samantha is a virtual program that desires a physical form despite being unlimited in mental capacity. Content-wise, Her is as funny as it is dark, as heartwarming as it is unsettling, as optimistic as it is painfully self-aware, and as innocent as it is inappropriate (it is rated R for a reason).

The issue with Her is that much of it has the tendency to go over peoples’ heads. While it does make complex statements about humanity and technological advancement, it is hard to relate to without having experienced love and loss personally. Sometimes many of its deeper commentaries come off as convoluted and confusing.

Spike Jonze’s latest cinematic venture is a triumph. Uplifting, sad, and endlessly entertaining, Her is truly a sight to see.