Spoiler-Free Review of Her

Written by Mark McElroy


I love my iPad.

What if it could love me back?

That’s essentially the question at the heart of Her, a meditation on our affection for personal technology and social media … how that technology might evolve … and the unexpected places it could take us.

Anyone who has seen the trailer knows the premise: what if Apple’s Siri became smart and emotive enough to be perceived as a companion? (Given Siri’s inability to process the simplest commands these days, that’s quite a stretch, I know.)

Joaquin Phoenix is perfectly cast as the lonesome, broken Theodore, who makes a living writing fake handwritten letters for clients who want to be in touch or romantically involved with each other, but who are too busy updating their Facebook status to write these letters themselves. His performance is all the more remarkable when you consider how much of this movie he spends alone onscreen, talking to the phone in his pocket.

As a concept, his love affair with an operating system (Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson, who director Spike Jones called in to replace the original voice-over by Samantha Morton) sounds far-fetched, but on screen, it rings true. And while this romance takes place in a world just a decade or two ahead of our own, the seeds of it are here today. Everyone you know who thinks interacting with posts on Facebook is the equivalent of having real interaction with real friends is a potential Theodore waiting to happen.

Even if you go see this movie (and you should), there’s a lot of it you won’t see. Spike Jones’ initial cut of the film was two and a half hours long. Sitting with Steven Soderberg in a marathon twenty-four hour recutting session, Jones sliced that down to just ninety minutes. (Thanks for that story, IDMB.)

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