One evening while browsing through Netflix suggestions, Chris and I came across a movie with a scifi bent that stars Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, and the voice talent of Scarlett Johansson. While housing some ridiculous moments the concept of the movie and its interesting execution kept us watching until the very end. The message of the movie is that we should all disconnect from our devices for a few moments and connect with the human beings sitting right next to us. Not a bad message, but it unfortunately had a rather on the nose execution. This movie proceeds in exactly the manner you think it will. So, I guess, *spoilers.* But really any kind of summary would lead you to know exactly what is going to happen. There are no major plot twist, and I don’t think there is meant to be one. The movie meanders through emotions and connections, and just kind of wanders off stage with no real great purpose other than to make the viewer think about such emotions and connections and wanderings.
In the near future, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a lonely, introverted man who works for a Los Angeles business that has professional writers compose heartfelt, intimate letters for people who are unwilling or unable to write letters of a personal nature themselves. Unhappy because of his impending divorce from childhood sweetheart Catherine (Rooney Mara), Theodore purchases a talking operating system with artificial intelligence, designed to adapt and evolve. He decides he wants the OS to have a female voice, and she (Scarlett Johansson) names herself “Samantha”. Theodore is fascinated by her ability to learn and grow psychologically. They bond over their discussions about love and life, such as when Theodore explains that he is avoiding signing his divorce papers because of his reluctance to let go of Catherine. Samantha proves to be constantly available, always curious and interested, supportive and undemanding.
One aspect of this movie that was hard to watch was Joaquin’s mustache. Really. It was distracting and made him look incredibly creepy. Add to this that, the whole movie is about a man who falls in love with his operating system, and the creep factor is intensified. But the oddest moment, one that made Chris and I look at each other and seriously ponder what the heck was going on, was the moment the screen went dark for several seconds as he has phone/operating system sex with his OPERATING SYSTEM! I. Just. What? More than a few odd moments pulled me out of the story on more than one occasion, which was unfortunate, because there were a lot of good and interesting moments as well.
For example, Chris Pratt makes an appearance as a Paul, security guard for the company that Theodore works for. He has some great quips and brings his funny lovable self to the screen. However, his complete acceptance of Theodore’s romantic entanglement with an OS was interesting, he even goes so far as to set up a double date with Theodore, Samantha, and his own real life girlfriend. His girlfriend also accepts Samantha as a person, as she and the OS have a girl on girl conversation while Theodore and Paul go off on a walk during the double date. However much I’m attached to my phone and the android OS, I do not think of it as its own person. Even if it were given a voice and some algorithm capability of learning human behaviors, I just have a hard time grasping the concept of total acceptance of an OS was a being I want to be emotionally attached to.
But the movie did make me think. What makes a connection? Is it necessary the other being have a physical body? I yell at my computer and treat it like a naughty child, is this the first step in an emotional connection with an electronic device. The reason for such a thought provoking reaction was Scarlett Johansson’s voice acting. She did an superb job. Samantha really came to life because of Scarlett Johansson. Her exploration as a algorithm that learns human connections and a way to express them was one of the more interesting things about the movie. Samantha felt like a person that just didn’t have a body. Where I had a hard time was the deep emotional connection that Theodore possessed for her. The leap to fall in love with a being who had no physical presence other than an electronic device was hard for me to comprehend.
A refreshing presence was Amy Adams, who plays Theodore’s neighbor and long time best friend, Amy. Adams grounded what otherwise would have been a movie of just Joaquin walking around talking to himself. Their relationship played as fully real and convincingly long term. Her emotional support of Theodore was sweet especially after some of the painful scenes with his ex. She was there for Theodore in all of his ups and downs, with his different relationships, even being there for him when his blind date with a live person went horribly wrong. It was a sweet show of unconditional love.
In spite of a few “Merr?” moments, the theme and message behind Her, along with the beautiful execution of the concept make for a compelling movie. The acting of each person attached to it carried the message forward adding gravitas. In spite of a few moments where I barked out a laugh as I realized that the main character was sad because his Operating System had broken up with him, the thought provoking connections in the movie make it stand out as an interesting and beautifully filmed movie. If you have a free evening and want to watch a movie that meanders through several interesting themes and concepts, have a little laugh at some of the ridiculous points it makes, and watch Amy Adams be a bit geeky for more than a few moments, check out Her.