'Her,' Another Quirky Film For Director Spike Jonze

Dec 20, 2013
Originally published on December 20, 2013 10:13 am



OK. You just heard a reference to socializing being good for you. What if you're not socializing? What if you're blocked? That's a subject for the movie director Spike Jonze. He's known for directing quirky, emotionally resonant films like "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation." And Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION critic Kenneth Turan reviews his new film, "Her."

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: "Her" is both smart entertainment and subtle warning, a love story and a horror show. It's a risky leap off a cliff, with a plot that sounds like a gimmick, but ends up being anything but. "Her" is set in the near future. A poor soul named Theodore, played by Joaquin Phoenix, sees an ad for the first artificially intelligent operating system for his phone. With nothing else going on in his life, Theodore signs up.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Please wait as your operating system is initiated.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON: (as Samantha) Hello. I'm here.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX: (as Theodore) Hi.

JOHANSSON: (as Samantha) Hi. I'm Samantha.

TURAN: As voiced by Scarlett Johansson, who's never seen on screen, Samantha has a manner that says she cares about you, you and only you. At first, Theodore is nonplussed by Samantha's easy familiarity, but he gets used to her, and says he has more fun with her than anyone human in his life. In fact, as Theodore tells his best friend, played by Amy Adams, he and Samantha find themselves in the most serious relationship he's ever been in.


PHOENIX: (as Theodore) I feel really close to her. Like, when I talk to her, I feel like she's with me.

AMY ADAMS: (as Amy) Are you falling in love with her?

PHOENIX: (as Theodore) Does that make me a freak?

ADAMS: (as Amy) No, no. I think it's - I think anybody who falls in love is a freak.

TURAN: Jonze draws intriguing parallels between Theodore and Samantha's relationship - alternatively sweet and creepy - and what happens between two actual people. If falling in love with anyone is a form of socially acceptable insanity, what makes this relationship so different? The most intriguing question "Her" poses is about the potential of personal technology. This is a film about how we live now, and how we might live in the future. We are entering a brave new world, and we better be ready for it.


INSKEEP: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the L.A. Times.


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