The vastness of technology has invaded the futuristic city of Los Angeles, not by violent, dystopic machines, but rather by heavy disconnection in everyday life. In Spike Jonze’s Her, a melancholic writer named Theodore Twombley is no exception. Coming face-to-face with his attachment to technology, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) becomes personal with his operating system, Samantha, who is programmed to declutter his life and completely understand him. However, Samantha, voiced over by Scarlett Johansson, becomes Theodore’s lifeline to the world of simplicity and, most importantly, joy.
Some may call it silly that such a sensitive character would fall in love with a complex non-human operating system. But Theodore’s thriving relationship with the most understanding being in his life both feeds the way he treats himself and others. He understands the relationship woes that his one friend, Amy, (Amy Adams) endures during the film. He also begins to progress with his current divorce with his wife (Rooney Mara), which has been the true bane of his happiness. Samantha’s voice not only reads Theodore his emails and reminds him of his meetings for the day; she guides him to learn the one thing that truly matters most: others.
A wonderful contrast to the complex relationships and messy disconnect that surround Theodore’s California life are the film’s pleasant aesthetics. The floating camera, soft light and Theo’s aqua blue and coral red wardrobe against grey skyscrapers and sidewalks creates a feeling of both comfort and distance. In addition, an impeccable soundtrack featuring alternative bands like Arcade Fire, as well as intimate acoustic tracks like “Moon Song,” Her‘s playlist delivers both happiness and heartache to the already swaying plot.
Spike Jonze has created an all-too-familiar story about both love and loss that is heightened by the wonders and woes that technology delivers. Her does not only give its viewers a look at how tomorrow’s distracted society will interact, but inspires them to look beyond the screens that are constantly blocking their view of beautiful things. As stated in the film, “We are only here briefly, and in this moment I want to allow myself joy.” Her allows its audience to do just that.