This movie has no relevance to modern day life. Its the story of a man who falls in love with his computer program, but its really about how are society is becoming more withdrawn into the virtual world we have created and how we are choosing artificial relationships over true human interaction. Nope, no relevance at all.
Relax, I’m kidding. Her is in fact a very poignant film which looks at a not-so-distant future where AI operating systems are becoming the norm. What makes this future so haunting and effective is that it resembles our own present very closely. Only yhe main concept and some minor details tell us that we are in the future.
We follow Theodore Twobly (a name which certainly matches his appearance) as he falls in love with his AI Samantha. Why this movie works so well is because no details about how this relationship is built and how it works is passed over. How it comes to be feels natural, and the nagging questions we have about how it works, especially the sexual aspects, are addressed. And as the relationship advances and Samantha’s intelligence grows, no punches are pulled in the very troubling consequences which occur.
A uge victory which Spike Jonze and company achieve is to strike exactly the right balance with Samantha. It would be very tempting to try to make her seem completely human, so that she is 100% personified by the audience (like WallE for example). But this would be a mistake, since in order for us to feel the underlying unease of this relationship we have to at some level always remember that she is a computer program. But she also can’t be too robotic, or it doesn’t work either since we wont buy the relationship initially. Yet thanks to the script, Scarlett Johansen’s performance, and Joquain Phoenix’s reactions, the character of Samantha is exactly what she needs to be.
Her presents a lot of ethical and philosophical questions about the nature of technology in our lives and on the nature of modern relationships, without directly addressing them but rather letting us think about them tangentially. It has a certain indie style which may not be for everyone, and some pretentious music choices, but it is a very well-made sci-fi thinker.