Jonathan White’s review published on Letterboxd:
I first saw the trailer for Her some months ago when out at the cinema. I was pretty sure at that point that this is something I would hate. I kind of forgot about it. Then, a few weeks ago the 5 star reviews started flooding my stream. I’m always worried when I see things like that. It reminded me of The Master, a film everyone adored; everyone but me. Wait, this also stars Joaquin. Maybe it’s all those The Master fans! One thing that gave me hope, though; Spike Jonez. Adaptation. Being John Malkovich. Two films I love.
I think it was the sweetness of the letter writing, and how wonderfully and gracefully Jonez introduced this occupation that made me drop my guard. I was so enamored by the time OS One was introduced, that my normally picky SciFi self gave the notion of a desktop OS ( granted, in the undefined future ) being capable of sentience a pass. I think part of what intrigued me is that tomorrow is our annual HAL’s birthday watch, so the idea of the thinking, feeling, machine is already on my mind.
I’ll declare right off the top that Joaquin delivers a wonderful, shy, and sensitive performance. For what is essentially a one hander, that’s quite an accomplishment. I must say that Scarlett Johansson’s voice acting is what really made it work, though.
For the first half of the film I was willing to accept Her as a lens on what makes up a relationship, and what are the things that make love real. I loved the great sci-fi concept of separating the mental and spiritual from the physical, and the idea of a proxy. I was a bit disappointed that this concept wasn’t explored more thoroughly, as the way it was put forward you knew from the start that this experiment was doomed to failure. Another thing that I really loved about this phase was the idea of sociological acceptance of human / AI relationships. This issue was brought up so brilliantly by the brief conversation between Theodore and Amy. The point of confession, only to realize the sudden commonality of this new type of relationship in society. Things have changed; overnight.
In part two I was less interested in the relationship between Samantha and Theodore as I was with Samantha’s growth. This is what really piqued my interest. I think there is some marvelous pure Sci Fi going on here, and I love the way it’s explored, and the way it’s concluded.
I’m going to look at HAL in a slightly different way tomorrow.