Perhaps the most understated film included in this year’s Oscar nominations, Spike Jonze’s ‘her’ is a slow and tentative rom-com-sci-fi which explores the existence of a relationship with a man and his operating system.
Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a socially awkward romantic, finds love in the caring voice of his computers operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) whilst in the process of divorce from his ex-wife (Rooney Mara). Despite sounding like a seedy future fantasy, Her is a gentle approach to the formulation and workings of a relationship unearthing a relevant truth about the intrusions of technology in the process. Possessing a truly realised vision of a technologically advanced near-future, Her is extremely self-aware of its context, often showing the unnecessary technological gimmicks other than the large overwrought discoveries. So true to real life social interactions and relationships such a story is easily fathomable in the future. This comes with aid from the excellent characterisation of the protagonist who is grounded heavily in the context, reflecting relatable personal qualities that make us connect with him more closely, sharing in his emotions. Adopting this character, Joaquin Phoenix does a fantastic job, as per usual, as he displays the everyday man with charm and enthusiasm, fully establishing his character into the real world.
With a soft yet melancholy vision of the future, Spike Jonze integrates his recognisable style which often reflects the feelings and emotions of characters through the films aesthetics, working in cognition with the central story. With beautiful cinematography, Her often touches on the smaller, more unmentioned aspects of everyday interaction, doing so in a way which is consistently interesting, allowing the audience to become easily transported into the world. Furthermore the original soundtrack also aids in reflecting the melancholy emotions of the protagonist, changing as the film continues to adapt to his changing attitude, rarely changing tempo or style Her, as a result, never feels rushed; being a slow and enjoyable view into the life of a couple.
Calm, gentle and hugely engrossing, Her’s real triumph lies in its established context, in a world where technology dictates our every decision as we rely on it to live, it’s this real life setting that makes these characters and their relationship so true. Spike Jonze’s vision of the future is a somber yet oddly uplifting one which tugs at the heartstrings and pounds at the brain cells.
8.5/10- A smart, seductive and comforting alternative to the unrealistic rom-coms of Hollywood.