MOVIE REVIEWS - Her

WRITER-director Spike Jonze is a man of fascinating contradictions.

On one hand, he is a co-creator of the Jackass TV series and films which revel in bad taste humour.

Joaquin Phoenix in Her

Joaquin Phoenix in Her

On the other, he is the Oscar-nominated visionary responsible for the films Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Where The Wild Things Are, which refuse to pander to the whims and expectations of the masses.

If common sense and justice prevail, Jonze should finally get the Academy Award statuette he richly deserves for his script to this haunting and heart-breaking romance.

Her takes our fascination with technology as a means to forge personal relationships to the next level, imagining a love story between a man and his home computer’s voice-activated operating system.

Jonze elicits a tour-de-force central turn from Joaquin Phoenix as his unexpectedly love-struck protagonist and a sexy vocal performance from Scarlett Johansson as the rapidly evolving artificial intelligence, who begins to question her limitations.

“Are these feelings real or are they just programming?” she wonders aloud.

Phoenix plays Theodore Twombly, a shy, introverted man who has been emotionally scarred by the impending divorce from his sweetheart (Rooney Mara). Theodore channels his hopelessly romantic soul into his work at beautifulhandwrittenletters.com, which creates heartfelt love letters for customers, who struggle to find the right words.

On the way home one day, he hears about new technology that claims to be “not just an operating system – it’s a consciousness”.

Intrigued, Theodore signs up and he creates an OS with a female identity; Samantha (voiced by Johansson) is born.

At first, she takes care of his day-to-day tasks but gradually, Samantha coaxes Theodore out of his shell and encourages him to rake over the coals of his failed marriage.

“I think I hid myself from her, left her alone in the relationship,” he laments. Her is the perfect Valentine’s Day companion. Jonze wears his heart on his sleeve and Phoenix is extraordinary in close-up without any other human presence for long periods.

My rating 8.5./10

Check your local cinema for show times.