It is the intelligence found in "Her" that provides some kind of provocative loneliness which is common to the cinema of Spike Jonze.
Set in Los Angeles in the slight future and starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara and Scarlett Johansson, this modern noirish romantic comedy is an attempt to analyze not just the nature of our love affair with technology but also each other.
Production designer K. K. Barrett creates a sort of utopian world in which characters find distant comfort in internet porn, video games and operating systems. A world in which the prickliness of Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" and men in high-waisted pants and mustaches meet. With one stunning sequence after another, it is almost as if the lens of Hoyte van Hoytema and Spike Jonze's originality were meant to be.
One does not have to look far into the future to find Jonze's world; dependence on iPhones and intimacy with laptops are almost becoming necessities. The panic experienced by Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) when he is unable to communicate with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson's voice), his operating system, is reminiscent of the helpless terror experienced when smart phones die or when laptops are unable to download.
This film reflects on the very essence of what it is to be in love in an unnervingly mature way.
"It's like a form of socially acceptable insanity," says Amy (Amy Adams) about falling in love. Later in the film, the artificial intelligence known as Samantha mentions that we are all made of the same matter and reminds Theodore that everyone is "under the same blanket," even operating systems, hinting that A.I. simply parodies things in the same manner as the human mind.
Jonze takes us on an imaginative adventure to discover questions of humanity, love and relationships. Phoenix's performance was not his best, but his slumped shoulders leave one wanting to give him a hug throughout the entire film.
Johansson's voice, which was added in post production due to Jonze's realization that Samantha Morton's (the original voice of Samantha) was not right, brings a tiring but sultry sexiness to the program. In addition, Hoytema's droll camera work combined with Arcade Fire's melancholic score adds the final touch of hopeful desperation.
"Her" is an outstanding movie because of its artistic originality, beautiful design, thorough execution and its reminder that in the end we are operated by chemicals, biology and electricity, whether they love, grieve or watch movies.