Mike's ProfileMike has a degree in Film from The University of Texas at Austin. He has worked in the entertainment industry for the past 25 years and sees two to four new movies in the theatre a week. Mike has a weekly movie blog where he reviews films both present and past at: lastonetoleavethetheatre.blogspot.com He can be followed on Twitter @lastonetoleave
Set in the near future, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is a writer who works at a company called BeautifulHandwrittenLetters .com, where he writes letters for people to send to their friends and loved ones. Theodore is not a happy man as his marriage is in tatters, but he can’t accept that it’s over and sign the divorce papers. He constantly flashbacks to happier times with his wife, Catherine (Rooney Mara), before his marriage fell apart. His friends tell him to snap out of it, including his best friend, Amy (Amy Adams), but this is a man that seems to relish living alone, brooding about the past. His one attempt at trying to find human companionship ends in disaster filled phone sex call with a stranger. It seems that all the feeling and love that Theodore puts into the letters he writes for other people, he can’t express these feelings for himself.
After seeing an ad, he decides to buy the latest operating system for his computer, an operating system that is called the most intuitive operating system ever developed. Within the first five minutes that the system is up on his computer, it names itself Samantha and starts organizing Theodore’s life. From that point on, Theodore’s life will never be the same.
Samantha is played brilliantly by Scarlett Johansson, who we never see, we only hear her voice as Theodore interacts with her. Samantha is smart, funny and sexy with a lust for knowledge, something that Theodore helps her with and encourages. Samantha soon becomes more than just an organizer of his life, she becomes a friend, one who pushes Theodore to go beyond his “safe zones” and push his boundaries. She even goes as far as setting Theodore up on a date with a pretty, smart woman (Olivia Wilde), a date, like most of Theodore’s experiences, does not end up well.
Joaquin Phoenix, in another outstanding role, gives us an open hearted performance that makes us like Theodore and root for him to find love. We watch as his relationship deepens with Samantha, and he learns to love again. It’s a role that could have easily become tired and pathetic, but Phoenix makes Theodore a real person, one which we come to understand and enjoy.
This is one of the better written films of the past year and writer/director Spike Jonze perfectly blends the interaction of Theodore with Samantha’s verbal interplay creating a film that is funny and thought provoking. Their interaction is absolutely amazing as the words seem to just flow between the two actors. I think one of the interesting things about this film is that we never see Samantha and therefore, each audience member must provide their own image of her to the film experience.
The look of this film is full of colors, making the futuristic world seem full of life, quite the opposite of the sparse computer driven world you might expect. The set design works to help us understand the world that Theodore lives in and works in, using the modernistic settings of Singapore to stand in for a future world of L.A.. Also, helping set the mood for the film is an incredible score by Arcade Fire that perfectly captures the feel of the film. There is a wonderful song that Phoenix and Johansson sing together near the end of the film that sums up their characters feelings for each other.
This is a film about love and how it can rescue even the biggest lost cause. It’s a movie that pushes us to consider just what love is and how it is defined, asking the question, can a man fall in love with a computer? Well, I know I did.
My Rating: I Would Pay to See It Again
“Her” made my top ten films of 2013, see what other films made the list!
“Her” is in theaters nationwide starting today. “Her” Website