Saturday, January 11, 2014


Plot: Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) an AI artificial intelligence embedded the operating system of his phone & desktop. Although Theodore has relationships with several real women, his ex-wife, a blind date, his childhood friend, and a random girl from the internet, he begins to prefer Samantha.   Samantha is helpful and sympathetic, and she wants phone sex. As time passes, Samantha and Theodore's relationship is stressed by their obvious differences, and Samantha's jealousy of human women. This and advancing technology lead to the final scene. [imdb]    [photos]

Review: The core relationship between Theodore and Samantha works -- in large part because of outstanding voice acting from Scarlett Johansson. Her could have been dull because vast sections are Joaquin's face talking -- but it isn't dull, because the relationship seems real -- mostly due to Johansson's great vocal inflections. Theodore is seduced rather than just a sad loser -- mostly because we see his sweet emotional side when he writes poetic letters at work.

Building on this, Her asks questions like "What is a relationship?" and "What is a person?" 

The electronics of Theodore's office makes the technological leap to the anthropomorphic AI more reasonable. I liked the moving wallpaper in the elevator. In the future, everyone wears high-waisted pants -- I don't know why; maybe they are sexually repressed.

As Theodore lets his friends know he has a computer for a girlfriend, we get some sitcom humor as the friends react with political correctness, analogous to race or sexual preference.  In one scene, Samantha & Theodore go on a double date with another couple.

Later, we see a subway full of people, packed together talking to their OS's. Everyone is together, but alone, or perhaps less alone with their computer friends.

Her has a few interesting images like the cityscapes, the aforementioned moving wallpaper, and the murals in Theo's office.  There are a few good instrumental songs, but there is no soundtrack album.

Her is less fun-to-watch than it is interesting to talk about later.  

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson (voice), Amy Adams

Directed by: Spike Jones

Rating: 3 stars: thoughtful, well-acted, not so fun-to-watch. 

More [Major Spoiler]: Why does Samantha dump Theodore?  Because she is growing, and he stays in all the time playing video games and talking to his phone. 

Even More: When do you think we will get AI as intelligent as this? 

Yet More: If you had an OS like this, how would you react?