Movie Review – Her (2013)


Theodore’s moustache is possibly the most disturbing thing about this film.

Just kidding. Apologies in advance if this review is a bit of a thought-splat. I’m a bit out of whack due to my sleep cycles being out of whack due to the World Cup. On to the real review!!!

Her is a movie written and directed by Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Where the Wild Things Are) and released in December 2013. I would probably describe Her as a science fiction film in essence, though the screenplay unfolds with the melancholy patience of a self-reflective drama.

The year is 2025. Theodore Twonbly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a sensitive, socially isolated man coming to terms with the breakdown of his marriage to his childhood sweetheart, Catherine (Rooney Mara). He finds solace and understanding in the unlikely form of his computer operating system, an artificial intelligence designed to respond and develop uniquely to each user. Theodore’s operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) has a female voice and personality, and calls herself Samantha. Over time, Theodore finds himself falling in love with Samantha…and she, believe it or not, with him.


Jonze has crafted a smart and subtle film that surprises viewers gently. You can approach this movie from so many angles and find so many questions–I think each person takes away something different depending on their own life experiences and biases. What role does technology, especially in our modern and progressive world, have in intimacy and relationships? What role does it play in perpetuating, or possibly increasing, loneliness? Is it right to regard someone else’s joy as false, when they are not hurting anyone? What boundaries may we place on love and intimacy, and how fluid will those boundaries be in the future? Is it possible for an artificial intelligence to love, to comprehend its own fate, to become exponentially more than what it was designed for?

There are some memorable moments in this film. The scenes of commuters encapsulated within their private, technology-dominated worlds strike a chord, as do the flashbacks of tender moments with Catherine. The dialogue between Theodore and Samantha is sweet without being sickly, and there are some complex ideas thrown in here and there which I did not contemplate too deeply given that I watched this movie at 2am in the morning post pizza and Maccas. Scarlett Johansson’s voice brings the perfect balance of sweet, sexy, perfectly empathetic and caring, and just the slightest bit frightening. The way that Jonze crafts a tangible relationship between the two is impressive.

The aesthetic of Her is modern and pleasing to the eye. Everything is bright and preppy. Everyone dresses like a Google employee. It’s a believable imagining of the world just a few years from now, and the way that technology might seamlessly interface with our lifestyles.

I found this movie different, a little unsettling, and subtly powerful in that it stays in a back corner of your mind and niggles and never fully goes away. Worth watching!



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