Watching this film I became anxious, agitated, frustrated, finally depressed; it was sad, scary, problematic and painfully pathetic; director/writer Spike Jonze and actor Joaquin Phoenix have created the most unique and soulful character in recent film history. For all its smothering discomfort, this strange and weirdly compelling film tackles a future society’s reliance on electronic connections for business, personal relationships; a fear of being disconnected, has resulted in a world of abandoned introspection; no longer pausing to “smell the roses”, no longer aware of their existence; plugged in 24/7; instant gratification has murdered the power of silence, serenity to divine answers that arrive from one’s natural, nurtured cognitive powers.
“Theodore Twombly” (Phoenix, at his personal best) ironically writes love letters for those incapable of poetically expressing themselves; poignant and beautiful prose spew forth in behalf of strangers but his private life, bereft, plagued with shyness, loneliness; loneliness so profound that he relies on an Operating System (more intelligent and complex than Apple’s “Siri”) for companionship and eventual love; the film’s power lies in the fact that we accept the romance and rejoice with “Theo” as his affections are met, surpassed, by a mutually beneficial pairing. “Samantha” (Scarlett Johansson, heard, never seen) whose own growth as an OS feeds off the physical validity of “Theo”; at one point she asks him what it was like to be married (he is in the process of getting a divorce) his moving response leaves her tragically aware that she will never experience that state. Johansson’s consummate performance resonates with glee, surprise, mathematically pristine “artificial” intelligence; most potently, pungently a “voice” redolent with love.
Unfortunately, throughout the entire film I “saw” Scarlett Johansson; aware of her sculptural opulence, flawless countenance, I was powerless not to imagine Theo and Samantha forging a forever bond.
Frank Herbert stated that “thou shalt not make a machine to counterfeit a human mind”; “Her” irrevocably breaks that commandment.
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!