Review: “Her”

Gennifer Geer, Managing Editor

This time of year always spawns the release of romance movies in anticipation of Valentine’s Day, but “Her” isn’t your typical love story.
Directed by Spike Jonze, “Her” tells the story of Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix)  as he deals with severe loneliness in a time where digital disconnection is the norm. Communication is done through voice-responsive computer assistants, and Theodore’s very livelihood reflects the lack of personal connection — he constructs personal letters for BeautifulHandwrittenLetters.com. The connection, of course, is today’s citizens are too dependent on devices for everything — even company. The film focuses on humans’ need for companionship and love in their lives.
Theodore purchases a personal assistant called OS1, “the first intuitive artificial intelligence.” As the OS1 (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) builds its knowledge base, “Samantha” and Theodore begin an official relationship.
It’s an interesting idea to toy with. Could we really become so cut off from one another that we resort to falling in love with computer programs?
Though it sounds ridiculous, the film does a good job of using Johansson’s comfortable voice to make a convincing case for Samantha. Computer and man share a few cute moments in their budding romance, and both actors give excellent performances.
The premise for the movie is certainly a stirring one, but the actual execution left something to be desired. At times it’s dry with nothing really worth fretting about happening. The awkward phone-sex scenes (yes, plural) are repetitive and don’t add to the plot anything more than establishing how lonely Theodore is.
The story is a sticky one to end — you know Samantha and Theodore can’t grow raise a family and grow old together. At the same time, you see the love between the two and root for their relationship. A satisfying and realistic ending would be hard to write, and, unfortunately, I felt it was weak and not as emotionally conclusive as I would have liked.
That aside, the film was absolutely beautiful to look at. It definitely lived up to the hype as a visually stunning work of art. The futuristic design gave it the feeling of not being today’s generation without alienating the story.
And yet, I don’t agree with its “Best Picture” Academy Award nomination. “Her” is by no means the best film of the year, especially not when compared to the likes of “Gravity”. It’s dull parts are excusable, but not excusable enough to constitute an Oscar nomination.