Ben Oliver

Banner image for Her


She’s not just a computer
07 March 2014

A typical love story in an atypical setting. Jonze places Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) in a world not too far from ours; it’s bigger, brighter, shinier, more connected, but it all looks a little faded. There have been no major technological breakthroughs, everything is just a few steps forward from where we are today. Theodore buys a new OS that is supposed to be intuitive and responsive to human needs. As soon as he plugs it in they form a connection.

It is easy to predict where this is going but Her is no dystopia. On the contrary, Jonze carefully balances the pros and cons of technological advances. The computer, which quickly calls itself Samantha, feels real. Thanks to a remarkable voice over from Scarlett Johansson we initially feel the same way Theodore does about her. She seems to yearn to be human, and it makes us feel for her. Their relationship quickly leads to love, and all the problems love brings. It’s hard to forget that Samantha is a computer but at the same time we are constantly reminded of the basic human need for intimacy, and the fact that Samantha provides this. She even longs for it herself, which is surely one of the most human traits of all.

Jonze has made a beautiful, artistic film here. One that aims to question the notions we have of ourselves, our relationships, those of others and dare I say the very essence of what it is to be human. Such ideas usually end in disaster but instead this is a deeply profound piece of work.