Her is a new drama starring Joaquin Phoenix as a lonely writer called Theodore who doesn’t have many friends or much of a social life.
He struggles to make a connection with anyone and is still dealing with the fallout from his last relationship breakdown. Things change when he begins to form an attachment with the Artificial Intelligence personality called Samantha that controls his computer. The AI is highly intelligent and capable of talking and acting like a real person, Samantha also regulates all the appliances in Theodore’s flat and is voiced by Scarlett Johansson which is a nice bonus! The AI has no physical form and is just a voice emanating from a computer screen, despite this Theodore begins to feel less alone and starts to confide in his new friend. Samantha is keen to learn about the world and Theodore starts to admire her sense of wonder. Samantha is a complex AI and her needs and desires seem to grow as the film progresses, such feelings and needs are shared by Theodore and the two start to form a bond.
The film also stars Amy Adams as a friend of Theodore’s, Rooney Mara as his ex-partner and Olivia Wilde who appears in the film as a blind date for Theodore. Joaquin Phoenix is a master of reinvention as he often takes on a variety of diverse roles and characters. He looks convincing as a man who is down in the dumps but always hopeful that his luck may improve. He also sports an unruly mop of hair, a moustache Tom Selleck would be proud of and a penchant for brightly coloured shirts. He comes across as a likeable, eccentric character who is desperate for a connection.
The plot is unusual as computer systems in movies are often depicted as evil like HAL from 2001 or merely avuncular like Jarvis from the Iron Man series, it’s rare for a film to put together a lonely male bachelor and a female voiced AI who form a bond, the concept is unique in movies and also thought provoking. It’s amazing how attached people are to their smart phones, computers and the internet these days. People spend more time communicating through the medium of computers than ever before, this reality makes the plot in Her a good observation on contemporary trends in life. As computers become even more intelligent and sophisticated it’s possible some people may become more attached or addicted to them. The film also raises philosophical questions regarding what it means to be human, if a computer is capable of forming a bond with a human is it still just a computer or has it become something more?
In the trailer, Theodore starts to feel good about himself and his attachment to the computer seems to have a positive effect which is interesting. It’s a surprisingly upbeat view on a rather unconventional affair and it’s unclear how far the relationship can and will go. The idea of a man falling for his computer will make some viewers feel uncomfortable and it is an odd idea. It seems unlikely that such a relationship can be healthy for a man. The trailer is effective as it gives the viewer a fairly detailed view into Theodore’s life, it may also intrigue some viewers enough to want to see how his situation will develop and how the film will conclude.
Spike Jonze often directs unusual films and Her is no exception, the director is good at defying audience expectations and it is tricky to predict how the story will develop. The unusual narrative and great cast could make this a unique film and one worth watching at the cinema.
Her will be released on January 10th so check out the trailer and share your thoughts.