‘Her’ challenges ideas of love

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Melancholy, humorous and thought-provoking, “Her” is, if nothing else, an interesting meditation on the pre-eminence of technology in the relationships of our time.

The interesting film, which follows lonely writer Theodore Twombly, played by Joaquin Phoenix, as he falls in love with an ever-evolving operating system, asks deep questions of its audience, pulling them into a reality in a quiet and richly emotional way.

“Her” immerses viewers into the intimate relationship Theodore builds with Samantha, the sultry OS, voiced by Scarlett Johansson.

Samantha, a system built to cater to her user’s every need, weaves her way into Theodore’s life, building a lively and believable persona. Theodore, a man grappling with the reality of raw emotions at his divorce, is pulled into his new companion’s optimism in a way not so unlike a blooming romance. He is lonely, thoughtful and sensitive.

Despite numerous opportunities to fall into cliches, there is something quite honest about the relationship that develops between Theodore and Samantha. It is intimate, intricate and the nuances of their blossoming affair do not seem as far-fetched as one might imagine.

Juxtaposed against real relationships with women in Theodore’s life, Samantha pushes into the heart of what it means to love and be human, an irony that is easy to miss in some ways, but something director Spike Jonze surely meant to bring into play.

“Her” is beautiful, set in warm tones with a soundtrack scored by a number of artists, including original works by Arcade Fire and Karen O.

The film draws attention to itself from the moment we see Theodore reading a nuanced love letter to us in a close-up first scene.

“Her” is never obvious, and nothing about the way it ends feels completely clean. The story never follows a clear-cut, plot-driven direction. While some viewers may find this technique annoying, it is hard to imagine “Her” ending happily or in a more plainly satisfying way.

At its core, “Her” poses honest questions about the nature of emotions and sexuality familiar to anyone who has taken a hard look at themselves in a serious relationship, throwing us head first into considering just how far-fetched something like this might actually be.

As Jonze points out, in the modern world, emotional attachment to technology is painfully real and to deny that fact is to deny what it now means to be connected and to be human.

The film does present some interesting notions about how connected the loneliness inside of us can compel us to be; it does so with simplicity and beauty. It is a pleasure to watch from start to finish.

About Joanna Andrews

Online Features Editor

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