Ours is a world over run with technology. On the train, or with friends around a dinner table, even in a nightclub, everyone is either interacting with their phone or tablet or very close to it. Spike Lee’s ‘Her’ takes this modern day phenomenon and pushes it to a new extreme.
Joaquin Phoenix is Theodore, a lonely writer from a near future LA, he writes love letters for people who don’t have the time to do it themselves. With no social life and a pending divorce from Catherine (played by Rooney Mara) he acquires a new operating system called Samantha.
Samantha (voiced by the ever sultry Scarlett Johansson) is not just downloaded in fact she is given to him via a personality quiz, soon she goes from sending his emails to being a confidante. As a viewer we soon forget that Johansson is not in the room acting alongside Phoenix, (not an easy role to play) Phoenix engages with the electronic device and gradually begins to fall in love.
Spike’s quirky style is an acquired taste, but if you’re a fan of his previous work (especially Being John Malkovich and Adaptation), you’ should appreciate the nuances of ‘Her’. For a mainstream audience seeking popcorn explosions the subtleties may be lost and Phoenix does spend a bit too much time staring out of the window onto the (albeit beautiful) utopian Los Angeles skyline.
Rooney Mara is underused, and the ever fantastic Amy Adams is nothing but a divorcing friend with a funny wig on. Meanwhile Chris Pratt is stereotyped as the buffoonish boss. All the sub plots feel forgettable and perhaps secondary thoughts to the main premise. There is a scene where Theodore walks through a busy city and everyone is alone but in busy conversation with their electronic devices, the frightening truth is that this is one step away from our current society. As much as it’s a funny romantic drama it’s also an Orwell style dystopian sci-fi.
Technology has become intrinsic to our relationships with others, at the same time it’s also slowly detaching us from actual reality. What ‘Her’ is really doing, is not talking about loneliness or our need for some social interaction, but asking us to look at what a ‘real’ relationship is in our society. In that way ‘Her is a genuine success.
Her is released on Feb 14th in the UK