REVIEW: Is ‘Her’ love in the modern world?

REVIEW: Is ‘Her’ love in the modern world?

Photo: YouTube

Genre:  Comedy, Drama, Romance | Run Time: 126 min | Rated: R
Director: Spike Jonze | Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams

By: George Wolf

Is Spike Jonze the most imaginative American filmmaker working today?

Yes. Need proof?

This is the guy who turned the beloved, 10-sentence children’s book Where the Wild Things Are into the most heartbreaking and wondrous film of 2009. The guy who could make the act of adapting existing work into the most original film of 2002 (Adaptation).

Heck, it’s the man who made his directorial debut telling the tale of a filing clerk who sells tickets into John Malkovich’s head. And the quality of his output has only improved, taking on a depth and beauty since he began writing his projects as well.

With Her, the first film Jonze has written entirely on his own, he’s crafted the year’s most poignant love story.

It sounds like the lead-in to a joke: A man falls in love with his computer operating system. Who, besides Jonze, could take a premise like and turn it into a masterful image of our times?

Joaquin Phoenix plays the lonely and emotionally bruised Theodore, in the not-too-distant-future Los Angeles. Still reeling from a break up, Theodore shies away from traditional intimacy, but finds himself attracted to the newest update in operating systems: the OS that evolves to meet every need.

Credit Jonze for sidestepping every imaginable cliché – and there are plenty – and instead exploring society’s current trajectory with surprising tenderness, perhaps even optimism. Yes, he notes the superficiality of relationships in the technological age, and the tendency toward isolation. But it’s not like he believes the machines are going to rise up and enslave us.

Not that he exactly rules that out.

What he does instead is almost magical. He introduces us to the very picture of humanity in Samantha, the operating system. Scarlett Johansson voices the character, and enough cannot be said of her performance. It’s easy to undervalue voice talent, but Johansson shows what can be done with nothing else to rely on – no facial expressions, no setting, no gestures. Her performance is an absolute wonder.

Likewise, Phoenix is magnificent, falling in love on screen with no physical being to perform against. His work is vulnerable and touching enough to take your breath.

A sparkling supporting group, including Amy Adams, Olivia Wilde, a very funny Chris Pratt, fills out the cast, each making the utmost of the environment Jonze has created.

The film looks and feels amazing, with every detail of set design and script enhancing and deepening the impact of the love story. It’s a beautiful, imaginative, relevant image of love in the modern world.


Read more movie reviews at

Latest News

in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: Nov. 30


A look at the Hollywood headlines of years past.

in Albemarle County, Charlottesville City, Local, Local Sports, Sports, Surrounding Counties, UVA, UVA Sports

Mike London Era Has Ended At UVA


Mike London's six-year stint as the University of Virginia's head football coach ended Sunday.

in Albemarle County, Charlottesville City, Local, Surrounding Counties, UVA

City Police Search For Robbery Suspect

Charlottesville Police Car Black and White

City Police are searching for a male suspect in a Thanksgiving night robbery in the 800-block of West Main St.

in Local, Surrounding Counties

Four Arrested Following Carjacking

Police car lights (from clipart)

Four men are being bars following an armed carjacking in New Kent County.

in Albemarle County, Charlottesville City, Election, Local, Surrounding Counties, UVA

Gilmore Will Run Ads In Some States

Casteen John Gilmore Jim 082308 CC

Presidential candidate, and former Virginia Governor, Jim Gilmore gets to run TV ads in several early primary and caucus states.