Strange looking back now that I thought Her looked like a disaster. That Joaquin Phoenix guy was fresh back from madness. The trailer was just odd. Why would anyone, ever, fall in love with a machine? Not even an android. Some little hipster iPhone of a thing. Nevertheless, I pride myself on watching all science-fiction movies so in I went.
The short story, here, is that Her is perfect in every single way. I mean that. Technically flawless. Masterfully told. I saw the film quite a while ago and was excited to review it until I actually sat down to do so. I found I didn’t want to break it down or talk about it. I just wanted to watch it again. I wanted everyone to just watch it. It speaks for itself better than I ever could.
The sole facet that bugged me at first was the wardrobe. I’d call it “hipster” but concede that’s a moving target. Beltless pants from the 70’s or 80’s. Pastel shirts. What it did in the end was make the future feel warm. Free to use Artificial Intelligence and not conjure images of 2001 or Blade Runner in the audience. Without a bloated special effects budget or LED lights glued to every surface, Her sold me on the idea this was a different Earth. My expectations for “normal” human behavior needed to be checked.
Which led right into a smooth introduction of the A.I., Samantha. I imagine, should one find themselves fortunate enough to have a conversation with Scarlett Johansson in bed, this is what she sounds like. Unguarded. She projects nothing. It is only compassion and sweetness. Objections or apprehensions to machine / human bonding are obliterated in scant words and a minute. It’s no longer “if” Theodore will fall in love with her but why is he’s still denying it. This is the first conversation. In which they exchange names. I was floored.
And I stayed right there for the entire movie. Captured? I went along with every movement, no matter how minor. Their relationship was real to me. It ebbed and flowed according to their desires and moods. I don’t see how anyone could turn in better performances. The whole cast. Far from being a silly concept, I thought this was the perfect scenario to explore so much of the modern relationship. Changes arise organically, without the need for external forces to force a choice on either party. There aren’t any tricks to the plot. Her is way too smart for that.
What’s most impressive is not that Her executed perfectly, but that it reached for something new. To be so confident in an off-kilter concept, to play itself out without concession to skeptics. Truly a beautiful project.