Reviewed by: Andrea McAteer
Joaquin Phoenix … Theodore
Scarlett Johansson … Samantha (voice)
Amy Adams … Amy
Chris Pratt … Paul
Rooney Mara … Catherine
Bill Hader … Chat Room Friend #2
Kristen Wiig … SexyKitten (voice)
Olivia Wilde … Blind Date
Brian Cox … Alan Watts
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Megan Ellison … producer
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Well, what to say about this movie. It’s odd. Oftentimes, ridiculous. About halfway through this film, it finally occurred to me, perhaps the writer/director was trying to say something. Trying to use this film on a deeper level to teach us something, say something or point something out. Only then did “Her” become …. Tolerable.
Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a quiet loner who works for a letter writing company. People give him information they want to communicate to another person, and he writes (dictates to a computer) the letter. We find out that Theodore is married, and he and his wife are going through a divorce, but he has yet to sign the papers.
Theodore becomes intrigued by a new technology—an Operating System, OS. Upon purchasing and installing, it, he is surprised by how life-like the OS seems, due to its human traits—voice inflection, ability to read verbal cues such as hesitancy or sadness. The OS “Samantha” (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) feels very real to him. He begins to truly enjoy his interactions with Samantha, sharing his daily life with her. She replaces his loneliness.
He “takes” her to a fair, talking to her and allowing her to lead the way by holding out the camera based device and closing his eyes. I thought, how strange he looked holding out the interactive device, spinning around and laughing, yet no one in the film seems to think it is odd. It seems commonplace. As time goes on, Theodore calls Samantha his girlfriend and admits to others he is in a relationship with an OS, however in time, Theodore becomes jealous and eventually comes to terms with the fact that she is not real.
We have become such an electronic society. Go anywhere that a wait is required, say, a doctor’s office, and no one can just sit there and wait—they have to be on an electronic device. My own children take an electronic device in the car for a 5 minute ride to a friend’s house, where they plan on playing another electronic device. How often do you text instead of call? Personally, I have found myself texting a new parent I don’t know well, instead of picking up the phone and calling to arrange get togethers with the kids. On Facebook, many people post so much of the details of their daily lives, or message friends, but don’t call or actually get together. We have replaced human interaction with electronic communication, to a fault, I think.
Maybe this movie is a commentary on our current dependency on electronic devices and how our reliance on such devices and “conveniences” has replaced human interaction. I think and hope, this is the point of this film, otherwise it is just dribble.
Another thing I noticed is the drab clothing. Men wear high-waisted pants that are hardly fashionable. Amy (Amy Adams) wears gray clothing, no makeup and her hair is loosely pulled up in a slightly sloppy style. There isn’t anyone overly attractive. Looks seem to be downplayed. Everyone blends in. I feel this somehow ties into the overall point of the film, thinking maybe this allows us to focus on the people themselves, who they are and their relationships, not what they look like.
This movie is not only odd, but very offensive. Near the beginning, Theodore has phone sex and the woman on the phone asks him to fantasize about becoming violet towards her with a dead cat. At that point my thought was, “I wonder if I left now, could I get my money back?” I stayed in order to do this review. While speaking to this woman on the phone, Theodore envisions a pregnant naked woman. Top frontal nudity is shown. This same pregnant woman was shown earlier, nude but with private parts covered with her arms.
Theodore and “Samantha” have sex… so to speak. The screen goes black, but they describe what they would do and there is plenty of moaning and heavy breathing, and it is quite clear what is going on. There is a mention of Internet pornography. Anal sex is mentioned and a bizarre drawing is shown of how it would look if certain anatomy were in different places on the human body. A cartoon mom in a game is made to grind against a refrigerator.
Vulgar language abounds—F-word and forms of it 32 times, S-word 11 times, God’s name in vain (7), 2 extremely crude references to female genitalia and 3 for male genitals. There is more, but I don’t think I really need to go on. I think you get the point.
I strongly advise all to skip this film. Jesus says in Matthew 6:22-23, “The eye is the light of the body, if your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. If your eye is bad, your whole body will be dark.” In the words of the old children’s Sunday school song “Be careful little eyes what you see… be careful little ears what you hear.”
There is nothing edifying about this movie, in spite of what I interpret as an attempt to comment on the human need for companionship and our dependence on technology. In the film, Theodore asks Samantha why she sighs, that is a human affectation, a need for oxygen, and she does not need oxygen. The movie closes with Theodore sighing, driving home that human element that the latest technology cannot ever replace.
If you have any desire to see an interesting film where technology can be manipulated to then manipulate our own interests, find the film “S1m0ne (Simone).” It is far less crude and much more fun and unique.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.