This Spike Jonze written and directed film starring Joaquin Phoenix and set in the near future carries an air of melancholy as it delves into the romantic entanglement between a lonely man, still reeling from the pain of his divorce, and his burgeoning love affair with an Operating System (OS) on his computer. Not as fantastical as it originally sounds as scenes featuring streams of people moving through the wistful sunshine of LA proves, as they appear to be more engaged with their phones, laptops and pads than with each other and the feeling that becoming more and more connected with technology results in a disconnection from humanity.
It is a high-waisted world of nerdy types which Theodore Twombly (Phoenix) inhabits as a letter writer for those who no longer know how to express themselves adequately. Having recently separated from his wife and involved in the machinations of divorce he embarks into the risky world of dating where one encounter leaves him disorientated and disheartened after being labelled a ‘creepy dude’. This leads to him starting up a relationship with an OS named Samantha-voiced seductively by Scarlett Johanssen-and love quickly and unexpectedly blossoms.
What seems to be a perfect relationship quickly reveals not only its own limitations but also its own set of problems. Almost immediately Theodore becomes entranced by this fantasy figure and believes their relationship to be mutually exclusive and wholly satisfying. However in an attempt to spice things up a human surrogate volunteers themselves as a real life sexual partner intermediary between the would-be lovers with expectedly awkward results.
Gradually Theodore becomes more and more reliant on his virtual lover and even double dates with work colleagues, where such behaviour is not only accepted but seems normal as does his confiding in his close friend and ex-girlfriend Amy(Amy Adams) who has also become involved intimately with an OS.
The melancholy which runs through the seam of this film prepares you for the emotional letdown which inevitably arrives at the film’s dénouement. It is sadness which combines the loss of human expression and disengagement from each other as our lives become more advanced technologically and the troubles of human interaction are burdensome. Ultimately the message is that any emotional involvement is as draining and occupying as the next and disappointment and despair are a direct result of this.
As a film Her works if you are looking for a thoughtful, involved piece of cinema. It is devoid of all the big tricks and plot devices that have been rife in the bulk of this year’s best movies. It is an old fashioned love story for the future wearing its high-waisted trousers and message, that we should neither immerse or attach ourselves too deeply in technology, somewhat plaintively.

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