Her (2013) [Review]


A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system that’s designed to meet his every need.

I had been meaning to get round to watching ‘Her’ for a while, and I had high hopes for it based on those that had recommended it to me. I watched it, and ended up including it in my 25 Alternative Valentines Day Movies. For those that haven’t read that, go and check it out. Regardless, here are my thoughts on it, beyond the few lines I wrote briefly a couple of weeks ago.

Her is from the creative mind of Spike Jonze (Jackass, Where The Things Are, Being John Malkovich, Yeah Right!), where Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore Twombly, a sad and lonely individual who has a job writing letters of affection for those that are unable to do so, at least to his standard. Set in an unspecified year, he strikes up a relationship with his Operating System (OS) because Artificial Intelligence has evolved that far, and it spirals out from there. He embodies this somewhat pathetic, whining version of a broken man perfectly, dependent on technology, heartbroken from a previous relationship. The parallel to modern man despite being set in the future is there – he is a human after all, but most guys have either been there or know someone who has preferred to stay in and play video games rather than confront his emotional hurt head on. His performance is exceptional, carrying the film with his all too real qualms about relationships and the dating scene. In these moments it becomes much less a sci-fi romantic comedy, but a drama holding a mirror up to present day perceptions and attitudes towards lust, romance and attraction.

The OS he falls for is voiced by Scarlett Johansson, who manages to somehow bind the film together with her seductive voice. You do not see her, for she is simply that, a voice for an operating system. Think of it as ‘Siri’ or the annoying thing from the adverts where people begin their sentences with “OK google…”, only she is not there to purely answer your questions on how to sort out dinner once you have burnt it. Technology has moved on, and she takes on a much more involving role in your life. She is funny, likeable and seems to be every bit as human as you and I, only she isn’t. Her injection of positivity is not only a welcome break for Mr. Twombly, but for the viewer as well and his repeated negativity. It has to be heard to be believed, but by the end of the film even a little bit of you has fallen for this sultry voice.

The film takes on an odd appearance, like watching it through an Instagram filter, it’s part desaturated with spurts of bright colours and provides an almost dreamlike sensation. The future looks clean, simple and smart, a minimalist world where it all seems too perfect. Subtle changes have been made to show that society has not simply stood still as technology has evolved. Fashion being one of those aspects, confusing at first, but it appears that high waisted trousers will be all the rage in many years from now.

Despite being set in the future, it is largely relevant to present day. It’s themes of companionship, loyalty and loneliness are apparent now and technology can only do so much to assist us in attaining happiness. In a world of handheld devices and 24/7 monitoring, with cameras capturing almost everything and technology advising your every move, what is apparent about this borderline dystopian, Black Mirror style future is that it not beyond the realm of possibility. We are almost there. Our future, if anything like this, is a world dependent on technology where those that want to experience real emotion are shunned to the side, and we turn to programmed happiness instead.

This film struck a chord with me the likes of which I haven’t experienced before. It was sad, sympathetic but funny, and spliced with moments of overwhelming happiness. A sharp script and two great performances among many other factors make this film a joy to watch.  I highly recommend you watch this, then put down your phone/laptop/tablet and go and interact with some real people.



7 responses to “Her (2013) [Review]

    • Cheers Mark. I don’t know why I put off watching it for so long. I just wish I had watched it sooner! Very unsettling that we could all become transfixed on a voice that mirrors our behaviours, interests and likes – whatever makes us happy I guess? Human interaction is overrated anyway…


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