Review: Her (2014)

Director: Spike Jonze
Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara
Release Date:
14th February 2014

What can I say? Maybe it’s because I can’t wrap my head around Joaquin Phoenix really, truly falling in love with his computer, or maybe it’s because his other love interests, aside from his ex, Amy Adams, are all considerably younger than him. I mean, admittedly Scarlett Johansson’s Samantha is recognised as a voice character only, but even she is a good ten years his junior. Maybe it’s because I find it decidedly unromantic that Phoenix’s character, Theodore Twombly pursues a career in which he is paid to craft beautiful letters to loved ones under the guise of the payee: deception at a remarkably intimate level from an entirely unimaginative website called, Perhaps, I struggle to appreciate Theodore’s infuriating lack of empathy or the fact that each outfit we see him in features something orange – surely not normal?

Either way, I struggle to warm to Theodore in Spike Jonze’s somewhat melancholy future. In a world where more and more people are turning to technology for affection, Jonze’s lead appears to understand less and less about how to interact with other humans, particularly women. An incredibly awkward blind date sees Olivia Wilde leaving in tears and a lonely Theodore seeking company elsewhere…in the form of his computer.

Sure, there is some obvious depth to the relationship between operating system, Samantha and human, Theodore. They fit together perfectly; jokes flow naturally between the pair, they bounce off each other with sarcasm and laughter and there is indeed a tenderness to their development. Theodore allows Samantha to grow and learn more and more about herself, while he himself is allowed to be happy for the first time since the end of his previous relationship. But arguably, Jonze’s star-crossed lovers are suited so perfectly because Samantha was made for Theodore – quite literally.

Her is slow and, at times, uncomfortable but maybe that’s an accurate portrayal of relationships between humans – flaws that apparently, not even your chosen operating system wants to deal with as, spoiler alert, they collectively decide they can find better elsewhere. But don’t get me wrong, the film is beautiful. The pastel landscape is sleek and smooth, Jonze uses colour brilliantly to intercept the harsh metal that seems to fill all generic visions of the future and the soundtrack (often ‘created’ by Samantha herself but actually composed by Arcade Fire) creates the aural photographs of Samantha and Theodore that they cannot take themselves.

However, if the future really is filled with Mark Zuckerberg-esque characters constructing our partners based on the chain emails we didn’t send on or the memes we liked when drunk, then count me out. Trust me Spike Jonze, I will not be swiping right on Siri any time soon.


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