'Her' review: Sweet. Profound. Poetic. Beautiful.
The small story of a man and his computer is one of the very best films of 2013.
In short: A lonely writer Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) forms an unlikely relationship with his computer's artificially intelligent OS 'Samantha' (Scarlett Johansson). (watch the trailer)
This extraordinary premise sets up an incredible film that explores the nature of love and relationships. 'Her' is as melancholy as it is hopeful - it is a story about the isolation of loneliness and the intimate, intertwined nature of relationships.
Writer-director Spike Jonze's offbeat love story is a complete story - and the quirk of this peculiar relationship allows a deeper examination of what it means to live, experience, touch and truly connect with another soul. The core of 'Her' is the ability of anyone to evolve and grow together ... and apart.
First and foremost, Jonze brilliantly distills this love story to its most vital parts. Watching Theodore and Samantha fall in love is sweet - watching their relationship is rich and meaningful. To make the unbelievable premise - of a man falling in love with an OS - believable, Jonze allows their relationship room to take root and blossom. Their courting is flirtatious, endearing and thoughtful - and it becomes very easy to almost forget that Samantha is an OS.
But in not forgetting that Samantha is artificial, 'Her' attains another incredible degree of depth.
Disembodied Samantha (Johansson) is dynamic and complex - she is a soulful being who aspires to live, while Theodore has been too content in merely existing in a self-imposed isolation. These two make deep, significant choices that profoundly affect one another. While Samantha yearns to learn more about living, she is all too aware of her limitations - which opens up a whole new analysis. This unconventional love story goes far beyond telling an odd little love story - it ponders the temporal and the eternal.
This is sci-fi used to tell an incredibly human story: the beauty of living life and the tragedy of distancing apart from other people.
The fact that 'Her' is also sharply funny and visually striking seem like after thoughts - but ones that demand mentioning.
Final verdict: 'Her' is not merely a wonderful love story - it is a beautifully told story that examines the nature of relationships and the human experience. Great films have compelling characters, set in rich worlds, and tell significant and meaningful stories. In that regard, 'Her' stands tall as Spike Jonze's best film and one of the great films of 2013.