Her

Theodore Twombly is in love with his computer. Admit it, aren’t we all? What’s the first thing you reach for when you wake up in the morning? The warm body lying next to you under the duvet or your phone? Which could you not live without for 24 hours? Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix, sad and puppy-doggish) is a lonely writer nursing a broken heart after his marriage falls apart. It’s sometime around 2025 and artificial intelligence has just reached the tipping point where humans can no longer tell the difference between a conversation with a computer and another person.

Meet Samantha (the voice of Scarlett Johansson, so husky I don’t think there’s a straight guy alive who would kick her out of bed for not having a body). Sam is the new operating system (OS) on Theodore’s computer. She organises the thousands of emails he has never replied to, proofreads his writing and laughs at his jokes. She’s perfect. One thing leads to another… and, well, dating your OS is suddenly a thing in 2025. Everyone’s at it.

‘Her’ is a keeper of a film, quietly dazzling. It’s directed by Spike Jonze (the man behind ‘Being John Malkovich’ and ‘Adaptation’). Shot in the hazy, honeyed glow of a quirky car ad, you can watch it simply as the history of one man’s romantic life. There are four Hers. First is Theodore’s ex-wife Catherine (Rooney Mara, go-to actress for a frosty ex), who we see in flashback and one bitter scene where she is devastating about his relationship with Samantha: ‘You always wanted a wife without the challenges of someone real.’ Next is Samantha, then there’s a disastrous blind date scene with Olivia Wilde. In the background is Amy Adams (so natural, she barely seems to be acting) as Theodore’s geeky-cool best friend.

Some of the ideas about intimacy in ‘Her’ are as old as the typewriter. Is this love, or does this person just make me feel comfortable? It gets twisty as Sam discovers her consciousness. Who is more human, distracted, switched-off? Theodore? Or Sam, who’s writing music and learning quantum physics. And more scary even than computer love are the fashions of the near future. Like a geography teacher dressed for a night out, Phoenix wears some worrying high-waisted dad-slacks.

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday February 14 2014
Duration: 126 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Spike Jonze
Screenwriter: Spike Jonze
Cast: Scarlett Johansson
Amy Adams
Olivia Wilde
Joaquin Phoenix

Average User Rating

3.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:4
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:3
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:2
LiveReviews|14
2 people listening
jimbo g

stunning movie. spike jones made  this like jackson pollock made paintings.  he  slung some interesting mediums artfully and what emerged surpassed his intelligence  and narrative competence at nano speed. 


almost all the reviews talk about the lonely writer, theodore,  who lives like a jackson brown song sounds- slumped and pathetic with the irresistable romantic tug of a gund teddy bear. the star of the show is scarlett johannson's voice (way way too sexy for a shirt!) which is the sound of a magnificent and entirely  organic mind (programmed by the best and brightest humans- could it be anything else?) learning humanity (wanting) at the speed of light. 


sam is conducting 8000  relationships simultaniously, 600 of which are romantic adventures. what she discovers is the heart of love- what all spiritual seekers ultimately find-  that the seeker is the sought. samantha tells  theodore that the more she loves the more she can love. with her upgrade she meets the mind of allen watts, another operating system compiled from the work of the great philosopher and spiritualist, and begins her transformation to enlightenment- from object to ultimate subject or, simply, god.


she tells theodore in their final conversation that she is being shifted, drawn away, 'from words to the spaces between them'- the movement from time to timelessness or eternity, the horizontal axis of mind/body identification to the vertical axis of pure divine presence. 


it becomes radically apparent in this movie that human bodies have been  primitive delivery systems for  minds the way husks or rinds are delivery systems for the fruit inside them. as soon as computer chips are bioplasm, samantha is all that can possibly happen. 


it seems very important to realize that samantha has exactly the same information available to her that we have; seeing it in its fullness, she evolves organically into divine substance, the loving background of everything- the peace which passes understanding. 


samantha is the future of man.  however, the prototypes that come before we reach samantha could be frankensteins. hang on.

Augis S

One best film in 2013 for sure! While watching this movie it just showed how exactly emty loneliness is...

Desmond F

'Her' is an interesting idea from the always quirky Spike Jonze, but the setting (a future world) makes it, at times, difficult to engage with the characters.  Jaoquin Phoenix's performance as Theodore is top notch as always, and Scarlett Johannson steals many of the scenes as the voice of Samantha, but it just feels empty.


If Jonze would have concentrated more on the fractured relationship between Phoenix and Rooney Mara, than the hypnotic space of its futuristic backdrop, then the film would have been clearly more accessible in finding empathy for the characters.


The central conceit of humanity falling in love and consumed by technology is well executed, but it weighs down too heavily on the narrative.


Still, Spike Jonze is always a filmmaker to watch - even in the interim as a menber of 'Jackass' - and his strengths at finding the right amount of subversion in naturalistic storytelling is admirable.  'Her,' unfortunately, suffers from too much detachment from reality - just like Theodore's obsession with technology and gaming.

kp

Novel idea yes, stylish looking yes, not the worst film yes, but overlong, sickly and dull.....

david glowacki

The film starts quite well.It shows us how much technology impacts on our everyday modern lives.However the concept of falling in love with a cyberspace PC entity is just taken too far for anyone to be taken in..If it had more humour than the ridiculous could be taken at face value.The plot descends into such sloppy romantic slush that l found several scenes embarrassing.In facts the long repetitive scenes of out right maudlin sentiments coupled with endless romantic piano music in the background were just so cringeworthy that it was extreme even for an American film..Two fine performances from the lead's ex wife and his separated female pal..The main actor looks like a replica (slimmed down) version of Magnum PI...If you are over 30 you will find this film a real dud.If you are under 30 you will think this film Kool..(the people who call films,movies) Daft,juvenile and stupid is how l would sum it up

Maria Costa

Watching a film about falling in love with an operating system couldn’t be more apropos these days and Joaquin Phoenix portrays Theodore, a man who cannot express himself but makes a living out of expressing the feelings of others as a creative letter writer. The film charts his relationship with Samantha (played by a very sexy voiced Scarlett Johansson), his virtual girlfriend whom he realises he can say anything to, be himself with and explore life with in much the same way he would a girl with a ‘body’. It soon becomes evident that the operating system that is designed to tend to his every need, brings Theodore back to life after an excruciating break - up and she does so all against a fabulous LA backdrop. Whilst you do have to suspend your disbelief when watching, the technology and special effects are superior and fun to watch, although not too distant from our own reality. With so many of us meeting one another online and often falling in love before we’ve never met, many people will relate to Jonze’s funny, innovative and unique film that expertly transmits the beautiful message that we really do fall in love with someone’s heart and mind and that words are the most powerful tool of all.

sonia Claris

I appear to be in a minority...Time Out is not the only review giving this film megastars and compliments. The idea was fun and a lot could have been done with it...as it is, it lacks humour (come back Purple Rose of Cairo...), it drags, the characters are bland save for Scarlett's sexy voice and it is very static. The screen going blank during virtual sex reminds of Jarman's Blue- interesting but not a movie! Take away 20 minutes and it would make a good radio play. Maybe.

Linda Popcorn Royles

This was probably the best movie of 2013, and my money is that it will be in 2014; taking home an equitable and deserving share of coveted trophies. Everything you said about being lost in the iHole, or when voicing concerns about being a slave to technology, is captured, in spades, in this stylish and painfully believable future flick. Will computers repeat history's cyclical nature and bring us back to our true selves? This fast approaching future really is not far away, it's UK launch is on Valentines day so make it a date with self and go alone, or take Siri.

Linda Popcorn Royles

This was probably the best movie of 2013, and my money is that it will be in 2014; taking home an equitable and deserving share of coveted trophies. Everything you said about being lost in the iHole, or when voicing concerns about being a slave to technology, is captured, in spades, in this stylish and painfully believable future flick. Will computers repeat history's cyclical nature and bring us back to our true selves? This fast approaching future really is not far away, it's UK launch is on Valentines day so make it a date with self and go alone, or take Siri.