Her is my favorite and probably the best movie of 2013. Although I’ve yet to see 3 (Nebraska, Philomena, and 12 Years a Slave) of the 9 Best Picture nominees for the Oscars, Her is by far the most interesting, thought-provoking cinematic effort of the year. With the voting body skewed towards old dusty white men, Her will not win the Best Picture award, but Spike Jonze definitely deserves Best Original Screenplay.

While Spike Jonze’s best projects have been directing scripts written by Charlie Kauffman (notably Being John Malkovich and Adaptation), Her proves Jonze is more than capable of driving his own creative ideas.

Somewhere in the not-so-distant or perhaps completely far-off future, the world’s first operating system with artificial intelligence has been released. The interactive public advertisements for the new OS1 have an instant appeal to our affable sad sack, Theodore (played by Joaquin Phoenix)—suffering from a deep loneliness and reeling as a result of his wife’s desire to follow through with their divorce.

Within the first 15 minutes, Theodore purchases the OS1 and Skynet starts to take over the world.

Everything seems innocent at the outset as Theodore interacts with the OS1, which names itself Samantha—a nod to the actress Samantha Morton, who was originally cast as the voice before being replaced by Scarlett Johansson. Samantha immediately improves Theo’s life by re-organizing his hard drive and serving as a much-needed companion. Suddenly, this new spark gives Theodore a reason to live.

Less than halfway into Her, Theodore literally ‘turns on’ Samantha—setting off a sexual awakening for a technological being that has no physical form. And so the singularity begins…


Spike Jonze takes the story of Her to incredible lengths in this imaginative, futuristic love story between two beings that shouldn’t be able to share that type of bond. In the eclectic future environment established, Los Angeles resembles a salmon-colored Shanghai. Despite that disjointed visual, the setting still works because the city seems foreign yet familiar.

As far as the acting is concerned, Joaquin Phoenix is perfect as Theodore. I can’t imagine anyone else in this role. I would like to think Sam Rockwell could pull this role off, but he doesn’t have the same deflated, depressed characteristic possessed by Phoenix. Theodore is downright pathetic at times, but you still feel bad for him because of Phoenix’s performance. There’s just some sort indefinable, intangible quality that Joaquin Phoenix brings to the screen. Even in prolonged, stretched-out scenes of dialogue with Samantha, Joaquin Phoenix’s presence makes the dull lulls engaging and interesting. The kinda creepy pedophile-esque mustache somehow works as well, which is a significant accomplishment.

Scarlett Johansson provides a strong voiceover performance as Samantha. I’m happy Spike Jonze realized he needed to go in a different direction at the last minute during the editing process. Her probably wouldn’t have worked so well without the emotion conveyed just by Johansson’s voice—she’s a full-fledged character with depth than any character in a Tyler Perry movie.

Her is wonderfully beautiful and whimsical.

I don’t want to spoil any meaningful events, but the audience should be prepared for several thought-provoking twists and turns. Some philosophical ideas are even touched upon. Don’t be afraid to engage and activate your brain when watching Her.

What if this actually happens? Are we truly that far away from being capable of a rough draft of the OS1? Our attempts at perfecting artificial intelligence will only increase. We will continue to strive towards that as an ideal. Our society can only improve as a result, right? Maybe, maybe not.

If you haven’t already watched Her, please don’t wait any longer. Seek out this movie and enjoy the experience. I would recommend multiple viewings because Her is just that beautiful and unique.


5 out 5 stars

“Sometimes I think I have felt everything I’m ever gonna feel. And from here on out, I’m not gonna feel anything new. Just lesser versions of what I’ve already felt.” — Theodore

  1. […] Her: 5-star review Dallas Buyers Club: 4.5-star review 12 Years a Slave: 4.5-star review American Hustle: 4-star review The Wolf of Wall Street: 3.5-star review Nebraska: 3.5-star review Captain Phillips: 2.5-star review Gravity: 2.5-star review Philomena: 2-star prediction […]

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