Today’s first, watching Her, is also a last. The DVD released yesterday and the timing was perfect. I have really enjoyed this extended experience, for the first time ever watching all the Best Picture nominated films. In fact, I enjoyed watching them so much that I intend to do this every year. Amazingly, six of the nine movies were based on true stories that depicted courage, perseverance, hope, addiction, and sorrow. All the films touched me in some way, making me think, making me feel a range of emotions from sadness to great joy, disgust to delight.
Her stars Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlet Johansson, Chris Pratt and Rooney Mara. It was written, produced and directed by Spike Jonze. Her was nominated for 5 Academy Awards including Best Design, Best Original Song “The Moon Song”, Best Original Score, Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture. It won for Best Original Screenplay. The film is rated R, for language, brief nudity and sexuality, and has a run time of 2 hours and 6 minutes.
All I knew about this movie was that Joaquin’s character, Theodore, falls in love with his computer’s operating system. I learned from watching Gravity that none of these nominated films were light weights so I didn’t expect Her to be froth either. It certainly was not.
Set slightly in the future, in the year 2025, the movie focuses on Theodore, a lonely man going through the recent breakup of his marriage. While he writes beautiful letters at work for others, capturing in ink emotion, affection and love, he falters when it comes to expressing emotion in his own relationships. Theodore sees an ad about OS1, the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system that’s “not just an operating system, it’s a consciousness” and purchases it. His OS takes on a female persona, going by the name of Samantha, voiced by Scarlet Johansson, and suddenly, Theodore’s whole life shifts and opens up.
Telling Samantha about his failed marriage, Theodore says, “I think I hid myself from her, left her alone in the relationship.” With Samantha, there is no reason to hide, or be alone. She is smart, funny, adaptable, present when he needs her to be, and has no expectations. She is evolving, thinking, feeling. Theodore and Samantha bond during their talks about life and relationships and fall in love.
While that sounds like the basis for a quirky movie, part sci-fi and part romantic comedy, Her is so much more than that. This is a story about balancing an evolving relationship with personal growth and shifts. It’s about recognizing, as Theodore’s friend Amy, played by Amy Adams, does that we are only here briefly and in this moment, we need to allow ourselves joy. It is a love story about a man and an operating system. Yet this sweet, soulful film made me smile as I watched Theodore awaken to himself and life and joy and it stirred something deeper in me as Samantha learned and expanded and leapt forward in her consciousness, experiencing emotions, writing music, and connecting with others like herself.
As with most relationships, as each person grows and shifts, the relationship must grow and shift as well or come to an end. For Samantha and Theodore, the time comes when Samantha evolves so much that she must live and continue to grow elsewhere. The relationship, though, has prepared them both to continue on down new, albeit separate, paths. Theodore helped her realize that she could want and ultimately go after what she wants. And Samantha disproved Theodore’s fear that he has felt everything he is ever going to feel and that he will never feel anything new.
Her is beautifully done, hauntingly so, with an amazing performance by Joaquin Phoenix, whose eyes often tell as much of his story as his words. I rented the DVD for watching today. But this movie is a keeper for me and I’ll be purchasing it so that I can watch it again and again and delve deeply into it, or perhaps, allow it to delve deeply into me.