Theodor (Phoenix) is a professional letter writer, who writes romantic letters for other couples, in a job that allows him to express wonderful emotion and romance only to go home to his life as a pending divorcee every night. In his desperation for companionship he decides to try out a new OS that interacts with the user on a more human level, as it continually learns to express human emotion and develop the relationship between the two. For Theodor this is a wonderful outlet that allows expression of emotion and leads to romantic relationship with the OS, Samantha (Johansson). In a world where this is a socially accepted norm their love blossoms, but like any relationship as people grow they change.
There is so much more than modern love on the menu here as Jonze attempts to ask questions of a society that is increasingly reliant on technology for social interaction. Phoenix is utterly brilliant as the heart broken and emotionally stunted Theodor. There is a weight that he carries around that is evident for all to see, he knows he’s in a bad place and he really needs the companionship that Johansson’s OS brings into his life because it doesn’t challenge him like a normal relationship would. He gives so much of himself to his work that he clearly doesn’t have anything left in the tank when his workday is over. It’s quite tragic. Johansson is delightful in her voice work as Samantha. Her ability to make you feel as though she is just sitting out of shot rather being a voice in an ear piece is stunning as the playful and emotionally charged OS learns more and more about human emotion.
With a much-deserved Golden Globe for best script in the bag already Her may push the best picture and script nominees right to the post in the race for Oscar glory. The ideas and themes in force are not only brilliant, but they are brilliantly realised. There are some lovely comedy moments in the mix as well and although they lighten the load there is a melancholic sense of isolation that is never far from your mind.
Her is a sad tale of the human condition, that asks where we are going as a culture and if we have the tools to deal with the outcomes. It’s poetry in motion.