Her | Film review – Joaquin falls for his computer in an offbeat romance for the social media age

Her - Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore Twombly

A Spike Jonze love story.

The tale of a man who falls in love with his computer, offbeat romantic comedy Her is both slyly satirical and touchingly sweet – both an unsettling slice of cautionary sci-fi, and a strange but poignant love story.

The setting is a near-future Los Angeles where Joaquin Phoenix’s gentle, melancholy hero, Theodore Twombly, is nursing a broken heart following a painful break-up with his wife, Catherine (Rooney Mara). Seeking solace, he buys a talking, artificially intelligent computer operating system with which he can interact as if it were a real person.

Voiced with husky allure by Scarlett Johansson, Theodore’s OS names itself Samantha and, evolving all the time, becomes ever more intimately bound up with his life. She encourages him to go on a blind date with an attractive stranger, played by Olivia Wilde, but after the date ends in disaster he turns increasingly to his virtual relationship with her instead. Soon, human and computer are mutually falling in love.

Writer-director Spike Jonze made his movie debut with the surreal Being John Malkovich in 1999, and he’s come up with a similarly quirky, thought-provoking film here, deservedly winning Best Original Screenplay at this year’s Oscars. Kudos should also go to Phoenix and Johannson, whose beautifully judged performances help Jonze achieve a delicate balance of cool poise and real feeling as the story unfolds. Some viewers will recoil from the film’s depiction of the artificial intelligence of the future; others will long for their very own ‘Samantha’; while even more will recognise shrewd truths about the way we interact with technology, and each other, today.


Certificate 15. Runtime 121 mins. Director Spike Jonze

Released on DVD & Blu-ray by Entertainment in Video

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