When I first heard about the movie “Her”, I thought that it seemed like the kind of film that would play into the juvenile humor that you would expect from such a movie. The concept of a man dating his OS brings all sorts of images to mind. I was sure that there would be some sort of joke involving the phone’s vibrating feature, and I was certainly expecting some sort of scene where the main character looks up naughty images while talking to his AI companion. I also thought that there might be some sort of ridiculous message in the film involving all of the other characters being disgusted at the thought of this man dating his OS, while they should really just accept him for who he is.
Of course, I was completely wrong.
“Her” is a delightfully original drama-comedy starring Joaquin Pheonix as Theodore Twombly, a man who makes a living writing love letters for other couples while he is going through a divorce, himself. Twombly, who has several flaws at the start of this film, soon buys a brand new operating system that behaves just like a human. Twombly’s OS, voiced by Scarlett Johansson, turns out to be a great companion for him, and the two soon begin one of the most unconventional relationships ever put on screen.
The first thing that you notice watching this movie is that the script by Spike Jonze is just about perfect. “Dramedies”, as I call them, are very hard to execute because the filmmakers have to walk a tightrope between serious and funny, and the vast majority of that weight rests on the screenwriter. Jonze really hit the nail on the head with this one. When this movie is funny, you can’t help but laugh. When it hits a tender spot, a feeling of joy wells up inside you. When there is a heartbreaking scene, it takes all of your energy to hold back the tears. Everything in the script is very believable. You really buy into this relationship between a man and his phone, and you can’t help but feel that it would be difficult not to do the same thing in his position.
This film is also masterfully directed and edited. Every scene in this film builds up the relationship between Twombly and Samantha, much to the credit of both Pheonix and Johansson. These two leads have perfect chemistry with each other, every action and reaction between them feels very real. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Twombly is on the beach with Samantha, and the two talk about the absurdity of the human body. There isn’t a single shot wasted in this film, and the pacing is impeccable.
As I stated above, I was afraid that this film would turn into a preachy flick where these two were shunned by the rest of society for their unconventional romance and we just need to embrace their strange situation. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this wasn’t true in the slightest. All of the other characters in the film, save one, actually embrace the relationship between Twombly and Samantha, and in the end, the film has a different message altogether. The film overcame all of my initial doubts, going above and beyond any sort of good expectations that I had for it. In fact, I can’t think of a single thing that I didn’t like about this film, so I have no choice but to call it a modern masterpiece that should go down in history as one of the greatest films of 2013.