Her is an odd one. Well, it’s an indie film, so it’s going to be a bit odd. But not enough people are going to be seeing it, which is a problem for me. The general consensus of people when I told them I had seen Her was “Really? I didn’t fancy it. Was it actually any good?” It wasn’t a film on anyone’s radar to see around the Oscar season, but then it won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay anyway. And everyone started paying just a little bit more attention to it. But it is still not enough.
The film centres around one man, Theo, set in the not-so-distant year 2025. Technology wise, it’s probably a more accurate estimation than the one Back to the Future II (1989) predicted. Theo has the peculiar job of writing personal handwritten letters to spouses and partners as if they were from their significant other. We currently live in a world where technology has arguably become a barrier communication and more real methods of intimacy aren’t important. Theo lives in a world where intimacy isn’t real anymore. Intimacy is reproduced by a stranger staring at a computer screen in an office.
The main plotline follows divorcee Theo as he downloads a new operating system, with the voice of Scarlett Johansson, and commences a close and loving relationship with her. As you can imagine, the film makes you think about the way we’re heading with technology. We’re trying to create computers with the same capabilities of a human brain. We can get porn over the internet, ring a number for a “good time” and meet people we could end up spending the rest of our life with through an internet site. Technology facilitates so many of our romantic and sexual experiences: is this real? Is this okay? That’s what the film asks you to ask yourself, and it’s a bloody important discussion.
The film itself is beautiful. It’s soft and delicate, and feels like a cyclical sunrise. A new dawn every minute. I personally love Joaquin Phoenix and he gives a phenomenal performance. He’s quickly becoming one of my favourite actors of this generation: Walk the Line (2005), The Master (2012) and now Her, he’s always been an outcast in the acting world and my god is he underrated.
Granted, the film is not for everyone. This is an extremely melancholy affair that not everyone will want to get on board with. But it’s beautiful, and its relevant. It’s often a hard watch, but only because it forces its audience to actively think about how we want to conduct our relationships in a society where handwritten letters aren’t written by other people, they just aren’t written at all.
So, to sum up: Incredible acting by both it’s lead and support and a deserved Oscar winner. A film for our generation and one that needs to be seen.
Other Jonze films you may enjoy: Being John Malkovich (1999), Where The Wild Things Are (2009) and several select music videos.
I’ve written about all the things I love about Joaquin Phoenix.
Also, his performance in the Woody Allen film Irrational Man (2015).
You will also like my review of Boyhood (2014), another film that questions our society.