Siri, you’ve got company: Meet Samantha—the ultimate in chatty, user-friendly operating systems. The gentleman who’s installed her on his computer, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), is won over by her sense of humor and sultry voice (courtesy of Scarlett Johansson). She seems to appreciate his sensitivity and his smarts. Love, naturally, blooms. It’s a tale of lonely souls and literalized online dating, and you assume filmmaker Spike Jonze will characteristically mix high-concept absurdism with heartfelt notions.
Unexpectedly, the latter dominates, thanks in no small part to Phoenix’s nuanced, open-book performance. The middle act may stumble under the weight of too many one-man-romance montages, and those with a low tolerance for utopian future-quirk will be readying their jokes about Her being short for hipster. But the film’s takeaways—about artificial intelligence and genuine emotion; humanity and intimacy—trump minor annoyances. It’s melancholy, moving and unmissable.
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