I love movies. I know, I sound like one of those people who claim “music is their life” (it is). Who doesn’t love dealing with inflated ticket costs, outrageous concessions, sticky floors, crying children and people who don’t turn off their cellphones for 90+ minutes of entertainment?
Seriously though, I’ve been a film guy for as long as I remember. Just check out my other article this week (surrounding Erie’s brand-new movie house). I remember vividly being traumatized by “It” as a child, feeling way too cool when I saw my first R-rated movie (“The Matrix”) on my twelfth birthday, and laughing harder than ever before when I finally got around to seeing “Office Space.” For these reasons, I feel it’s important to stress to anyone reading that “Her,” directed by Spike Jonze and starring Joaquin Phoenix opposite Scarlett Johansson, is the greatest movie I have ever seen.
Released in 2013, the trailers for “Her” certainly caught my eye but never compelled me enough to see the film in theaters. Or perhaps I couldn’t find anyone to go with me; I can’t remember. Regardless, I jumped on the chance to rent the movie as soon as it hit DVD.
The premise of “Her” is set in the near future, not far enough to be called “sci-fi” by any means but just enough to show us where technology might be headed in the next decade or so. In Spike Jonze’s visually colorful world, Theodore Twambly (played by Joaquin Phoenix) works for a company that is hired to write letters for family, friends, and significant others. In this world, people can take control of their music, email, and phone with an earpiece, voice command, and the push of a button. When a new OS (operating system) is released, Theodore purchases one and meets Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. Although she is an OS, Samantha possess curiosity toward the human world.
As one can guess, the more Samantha keeps Theodore company, the more Theodore falls in love with her and she longs to know what it means to be human. I will leave it at that in hopes that someone reading has the desire to watch this incredible dense and resonate romantic dramedy, as it somehow managed to be the most personal movie I’ve ever seen.
There’s something to be said about a film that can stretch its limits like that and still manage to feel so…real. The problems that Theodore and Samantha experience in their relationship, as well as the downfalls Theodore sees in himself, are the very same that I’ve seen reflected in myself. The filmmakers here, actors and director alike, manage to bring Samantha, an OS system, a character that has exactly zero minutes of screen time, into a more emotional and realistic role than many actresses experience in their lifetime. Not only do they bring Johansson’s character to life, but when they finally do bring in a physical surrogate for her character’s voice, they manage to make the scene feel alien and uncomfortable.
Visually, technically, and emotionally, “Her” presents a unique story rivaling anything I’ve seen recently, barring maybe “The Elephant Man” (but that’s another story). With elements of comedy, drama and romance, “Her” is a film I recommend everyone.