Her (2013) – Reviewed

Single Sentence Review: An on-paper sap romance evolves as forcefully and beautifully as its characters do.

In Her, artificial Intelligence finally comes to the world. It’s personal, and everyone can have it in their networked computer. Once activated, your new operating system will pattern its personality around your own, based on a computer analysis of your personality.

Her Movie Still

In the new world of extreme connectivity and dwindling availability of leisure time, Theodore is a personal letter writer. He expresses thoughts for people to their loved ones, despite his own emotional withdrawal. The unthinkable happens when he is finally able to share his innermost thoughts… with his OS, Samantha.

The plot is absolutely brilliant. The fact that Samantha is an artificially intelligent operating system remains central, and finds, in that restriction, new ways to paint about love. Situations occur which could happen under no other circumstance. The turns are real surprises. The close proximity of the couple’s communication guarantees there are no chase-her-down-at-the-train-station-before-she-leaves-town moments.

When they fell in love, it was different. And special. And probably never seen before in a film. Not just the love story with Samantha, but the love story between Theodore and his wife. The love story between Theodore and his best friend. The love story between others that are in love with Theodore and Samantha’s relationship.


Some of the conflict that has to appear in a love story appears here. People voicing opposition to the relationship seems pretty standard, but a jab from Theodore’s soon to be ex-wife hits home hard. She challenges him on his dissociation from full human interaction, causing him to question his own motivations and how real his love for Samantha is. Samantha, in the meantime, questions how real her feelings are about everything. Was she just programmed this way? Is she really free to feel for herself?

Her – Movie Trailer

The cinematography is astounding. Shots are often held long enough to provide a canvas for the emotional latitude on display. Colors reinforce the themes, and the lighting sits the viewer in place, puts them in the mood and ultimately seduces.

Standard relationship paradigms like jealousy are explored, with Samantha being jealous of women with physical bodies and Theodore being jealous of unlimited A.I.’s that can have multiple synchronous non-verbal conversations.

The acting is high powered here, with Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlet Johansen turning in career cresting performances. The supporting cast is so believable that unbelievable reactions to Samantha and Theodore’s relationship become normal. We grow along with the characters, and even along with the whole world of the film, into acceptance of this new love. If there is any let down here, it’s a slight one by Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) being cast as nearly the same character he plays on TV. To be fair, he brings a light balance to the chasm of loneliness surrounding him.

Is the relationship real? Does it mean anything? Will society allow it? The ultimate litmus test: does it not only grow in strength itself, but also help each partner grow as a person?

Have no misconception, though, Theodore is a lonely person, and Her doesn’t shy away from sharing that aspect of him with us. Will Theodore embrace who he is, or grow past it to become who he could be? Same question for Samantha.

Her does much for romance and science fiction. For science fiction, it brings truly hard scifi to the forefront of serious filmmaking for the first time in years. Ideas only expressed in novel form are placed before us in all their digital glory. For romance, Her may force us to expand our definition of how love could be experienced. Either way, it’s a success.

Plot: 4.7
Directing: 4.6
Cinematography: 4.5
Acting: 4.6
Sound: 4
Film Score: 4.5 (Out of 5)
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