RELEASED: 14th February 2014
DIRECTOR: Spike Jonze
CAST: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, Chris Pratt, Matt Letscher, Luka Jones, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Portia Doubleday, Brian Cox and Spike Jonze
BOX OFFICE WORLDWIDE: $47.3m
AWARDS: 1 Academy Award (Best Original Screenplay) and 1 Golden Globe (Best Screenplay)
Her has us follow Theodore Twombly who works as a letter writer and spends his down time playing video games and hanging out with friends. Currently he is going through the final stages of divorce when he decides to purchase the new OS1, which is advertised as the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system. Soon enough his OS1, named Samantha, makes an impression on Theodore and an unlikely relationship begins to form as they spend time together, which leads to Theodore looking within his inner conflict about being in love with an OS.
Conceived from an idea that Spike Jonze had after reading an article in the early 2000s about a website in which a user could instant message with an artificial intelligence, in 2013 we would get his idea visualised with Her, witnessing how Theodore Twombly strikes an unusual relationship with an operating system named Samantha. The screenplay is a fascinating look into a future where the world is now consumed seemingly with ‘online’ relationships, especially without the person being present, as well as looking at the isolation that comes with society relying too much on technology leading to a lack of human social interaction. The one thing that stands out the most on repeated viewings of Her is the colour scheme, which is bold and striking, with some wonderful production and art design work by K. K Barrett and Austin Gorg, with their work complimented beautifully by cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema and the score composed by Arcade Fire. What makes the film work however is Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of Theodore and Scarlett Johansson’s vocal performance as Samantha. Theodore is the 21st Century male, who acts like every social interaction is making him feel slightly more alienated than he’s already made himself, whose impending divorce is leading to him self-isolating emotionally from the rest of the world outside. Joaquin Phoenix completely embraces the role and commits with his multi-layered performance as Theodore, showcasing warmth and vulnerability and it’s such a shame that he never earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance. What’s more criminal however is that Scarlett Johansson never gained much awards love either for her vocal performance as Samantha, which is a shame as this is arguably Scarlett Johansson’s best role and she manages to make an operating system feel like a fully-fleshed out character through her voice alone is some feat. The supporting ensemble is really good too, such as Chris Pratt as Theodore’s co-worker Paul, Rooney Mara as Theodore’s soon-to-be ex-wife Catherine Klausen and Amy Adams as Theodore’s friend Amy. A terrific film from Spike Jonze that everyone can connect with.
FAVOURITE SCENE: Samantha suggests to Theodore to use a sex surrogate in making their relationship more… physically intimate. Overwhelmed by the strangeness of the experience, Theodore doesn’t go through with it, leading to an argument between Theodore and Samantha. It’s a very sincere, yet sad sequence that’s wonderfully performed by Phoenix and Johansson.
FAVOURITE QUOTE: “That doesn’t make any sense. You’re mine or you’re not mine.
No, Theodore. I’m yours and I’m not yours.” – Theodore and Samantha
DID YOU KNOW: Samantha Morton was originally the voice of Samantha. She was present on the set with Joaquin Phoenix every day. After the filming wrapped and Spike Jonze started editing the movie, he felt like something was not right. With Morton’s blessing, he decided to recast the role and Scarlett Johansson was brought and replaced Morton, re-recording all the dialogue.