Initially, Christoph wasn’t too into the idea of going to see Her. He knew what the movie was about and understood that Joaquin Phoenix was playing the lead, but he wasn’t feelin’ it. Despite his lack of enthusiasm, he agreed to see the film with me on Saturday night. He’s a prince, that guy, and I genuinely marvel at the fact that he married me willingly and seems to be happy most days.
Our happy-asses decided to go to the movies last weekend because we’re trying to save on money and we had free tickets. We would have liked to go to a bar, but bars are expensive when you drink like a Mexican. Instead, we opted for dinner and a movie. Sunday we would grill if the weather held, but Saturday we’d be going out. I wanted to wear heels and a dress since I don’t get out much, due to me becoming a hermit. I also try not to wear heels when I’m hanging out at home because I’m really only an emotional masochist.
Christoph and I hit up a new Korean place for dinner and had one hell of a good meal. The place itself was fancy times with its enormous water-feature wall, but the sign in the entrance hinted at reality. This elegant sign warned of the recent car break-ins / thefts and recommended that customers not leave valuables in their vehicles. Christoph and I don’t usually carry around valuables, so we were in the clear.
We waited for a good while and finally got seated in a strange room where we felt cut off from most of the restaurant. After our meal at the fancy and scary Korean joint, we sped on over to the movie theater. Once there, we found parking right away while others drove around looking for an open space. It’s not that Christoph and I were experiencing extraordinary luck, we were just willing to walk.
There were rows of empty spaces in the parking lot, but they were all farther away, about 1.5 city blocks from the entrance of the movie theater. We didn’t want to be lazy bastards so we parked “far away,” instead of circling like parking vultures. I’m glad we did too; it got us inside the theater and into our seats faster, in the long run.
Excited for the movie to begin, I realized I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Her. Fortunately though, I was intrigued and my butt was planted firmly in my seat. As the lights dimmed, I thought to myself, “I totally should have gone to the bathroom before I sat down; this is a two-hour movie. Dammit.”
We first meet Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) at work, as he’s writing a letter. He works for a company that writes letters for people that want to write letters, but suck at writing letters. Theodore is likeable; he’s thoughtful and soulful. He is someone with whom you want to instantly connect.
Theodore’s pretty obviously lonely. In fact, he’s so lonely that you can see it in his eyes. He’s got beautiful eyes that Joaquin Phoenix, and he knows how to use them. As a matter of fact, the majority of this movie transpires in those very eyes. It’s kind of cool, actually.
Samantha, Theodore’s love interest, is an operating system. That’s right, she’s the program that runs things on his desktop as well as his cell phone. She’s also really nice—yeah, “nice.” Samantha has a soothingly imperfect voice and she’s patiently enthusiastic with Theodore. Samantha is fun, calming and intriguing. She also happens to live inside Theodore’s computer. This setback, however, doesn’t prevent Theodore from falling madly in love with Samantha.
Her is the story of one utterly lonely man’s realization that love can come in any form, or without any form. Her also chronicles the evolution of time, the mind, consciousness and relationships. It’s a lot to take in, for sure. Lucky for us, this movie is simple in every other aspect. I suppose that is what makes it interesting. All other distractions are muted so you can focus on what’s most important—the relationship between these characters.
The premise of the story is simple. The concept behind that premise, however, is rather complex. What is consciousness? What makes us who we are? What makes us real? These are all questions that as a moviegoer, you’re tasked with answering while you lose yourself in Theodore and Samantha’s futuristic love story.
The story behind Her, intrigued me from the moment I saw the first trailer. The thought of artificial intelligence being considered a real person was preposterous to me. It seemed I was already prejudiced against A.I. and I just hadn’t noticed.
Sure, I was willing to suspend reality and watch a fantastical movie about a man’s obsession with this Operating System, but I was not ready to identify with the characters or the story. Despite not being ready, I did. Joaquin Phoenix was delightfully real in his portrayal of Theodore Twombly. He brings us a vulnerable, likeable, friendly yet lonely and sad lead character. Twombly has been let down by life. You can see the disappointment in his eyes, the moment he finds himself alone on his way home from work. As a matter of fact, the story unfolds just like that. The movie takes place on his face and the story transpires in his eyes.
Phoenix got to the core of me before the end of the opening scene. His nuanced performance was replete with emotion, which seems like a contradiction in terms, but it plays out beautifully on screen. Phoenix embodies all those things that make us human, miserable and elated through one remarkable performance.
Scarlett Johansson plays Samantha. She voices the Operating System in this love story. Despite not being able to see her, the performance is strong. If you listen carefully you can hear the different emotions evolving in much the same way Samantha’s intellectual capacity does in the film. I enjoyed listening to Johansson as Samantha, I found myself beguiled by her just as much as Theodore was.
Amy Adams plays Amy, she’s Theodore’s neighbor and friend. She’s married, frazzled and attempting to get through life like most of us. She’s a great friend and excellent listener. Adams brings us a friend that any one of us would like to have. She’s not judgmental, she’s warm and she’s funny. Adams’ portrayal is down to Earth and grounds the story.
The supporting cast also came through. Rooney Mara as Catherine, Theodore’s soon-to-be ex wife, is cold and alluring. Chris Pratt as Paul, the receptionist, is accepting, hilarious and kind. Together they help to create an environment in which it’s easy to get lost.
There's a lot to like in this movie. The costuming is quirky and fun, but reminiscent of a bygone era. This makes the futuristic setting seem familiar on multiple levels. Subtlety and nuance are employed nicely to ease the audience into this world where love is possible between a man and one overwhelmingly charming computer program.
Her provoked immense emotion in me. It’s rare to have a movie make you feel a little more alive, but this movie did just that. Christoph liked it so much he’s putting it in his personal Top Ten. I liked it so much that it gets an A+. I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this one so do yourself a favor, take yourself out and go see Her.
Her (2013) – A+
A+ = When a movie makes it so that when its over and the credits have rolled…you just want to watch it again, it gets an A+. Mission accomplished. Well done.