Spike Jonze has a history of injecting emotion and humanity (awkwardly clothed and coiffured as it might be) into his idiosyncratic films. That’s prevented them from being completely in the thrall of their crazy narratives but they have still been dominated by their core wackiness. For the first time with Her, the relationships Jonze brings to the big screen blossom into something bigger than the story and setting around them.
His writing and direction are bolstered by deservedly Oscar-nominated production design that sets up a convincing, though often snigger-worthy, near future. After this foundation is laid, the film’s artificial intelligence conceit is introduced and it is the turn of winning performances to break down audience scepticism and render the premise of a romance between human and AI as plausible – if not free of complications that Her mines for amusement.
Joaquin Phoenix is great as lonely dude Theodore, the sort of sad sack who we’ve seen on screen plenty of times before but seldom with so few actual people to act alongside. As his relationship with the disembodied voice of Scarlett Johansson progresses it’s easy to embrace the illusion that they are really right there with one another.
While you could accuse Johansson’s character of being a bit of a magic pixel dream girl, that’s not fair given her own unexpected character arc. Theodore’s journey may be more predictable, but Jonze invests his past and present loves with poignancy and the result is a winningly unique ROM-com boasting achingly human joy and melancholy.
‘Her’ movie times