Her is a special and personal film from one of America’s finest, and most unheralded filmmakers, Spike Jonze. The story of Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) and his lonely journey for love and acceptance is universal, and by using a subdued science fiction premise – man falls in love with his A.I. operating system – Jonze reveals that no matter how much we advance as a society, we will always be seeking connection. The tools may change, but the needs remain the same.
This theme isn’t all that surprising, though. What is surprising is the character Jonze creates in Samantha, the operating system that becomes the love of Theodore’s life. Samantha, as voiced by Scarlett Johansson, is the soul of every woman. She transcends her character and becomes a symbol of true feminism. In a lesser writer’s hands, Samantha would merely be a foil for us to better understand Theodore, like most women in movies. In Jonze’s script, Samantha’s journey is as real and vital as Theodore’s in every way. A scene, late in the film, offers a remarkable monologue in which Samantha explains the virtues of not having a body that reframes our understanding of what it means to be human.
Like the best art, Her stays with you because it is already inside you. It taps into that part of each of us yearning for more. This is not just a movie to love, but a movie to embrace and cherish. Its joy, its passion, its empathy are contagious.