Her Is Still A Beautiful Masterpiece

L-R: JOAQUIN PHOENIX as Theodore and AMY ADAMS as Amy in the romantic drama "HER," directed by Spike Jonze, a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

The Oscar-winning Her remains a beautiful masterpiece as the film reached the tenth anniversary of its theatrical release.

Her falls under sci-fi but just barely. It’s more of a romantic drama if you ask me, much in the same way that Star Wars is a Space Western. The only thing that’s sci-fi about it is if someone were to fall in love with their phone’s operating system. Siri, Alexa, are you listening?!? Regardless, filmmaker Spike Jonze uses his script to offer commentary on modern relationships. Well, what went for relationships a decade ago.

Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a Los Angeles man suffering from recent heartbreak after splitting with his wife, Catherine (Rooney Mara). He spends his days by writing personal letters for other people. Not long after the split, something piques Theodore’s interest in the OS-1, a new advanced operating system that we soon know as Samantha (Scarlett Johansson). The two are not just growing and getting to know each other but they’re falling in actual love. Yes, that’s right–a man and an operating system are falling in love in the not-too-distant future. Anyway, we later learn that a friend of theirs, Amy (Amy Adams), befriended another A.I. after getting into a fight with her soon-to-be ex-husband, Charles (Matt Letscher). The A.I.s eventually leave, which lead to both Theodore and Amy looking out into the sunset.

In the film’s production notes, Jonze describes the OS-1 as “an intuitive system that listens, understands and knows you.”

The film had been some ten years in the making after Jonze interacted with an A.I. system. The system was parroting responses but the conversation managed to spark the idea for what became an Oscar-winning screenplay. It certainly makes one wonder just what kind of films that ChatGPT and other A.I.’s have been inspiring for the past year or so. Given the whole conversation about AI during the strikes, it kind of adds another perspective to the film. Could Samantha write a film script or would she have had to dictate it to Theodore? It’s something to think about as the conversation will almost certainly be continuing into the next year.

Samantha is able to bring out a positive side of Theodore. But at the same time, the operating system wants to experience more. How in the heck is that even going to be possible?!? Samantha is an operating system–it’s not like she can input her artificial consciousness into a living human.

One conversation that came as a result of the film’s release ten years ago is the lack of voice acting awards at the major awards shows. I mean, you have such awards but they’re only for animation. The fact that Her is in live-action means that Scarlett Johansson’s amazing voice work was ineligible at the major shows except for the Critics Choice Awards. I want to specify that I’m not talking about regional groups or other national organizations like the Saturn Awards. I’m specifically discussing the major shows that are on TV such as the Academy Awards or Golden Globes. The film did not earn any SAG Awards nominations for what it’s worth. Johansson’s voice work is every bit the part of the film as Joaquin Phoenix.

The film won just a single Oscar–Original Screenplay–in five nominations. Other nominations were for Best Picture, Score, Song, and Production Design. It’s certainly worthy of nominations in all those categories. Understandably, it was never going to win Best Picture. I’m not even sure it would have much of a chance ten years later at winning the big prize. That’s not to say anything bad about the film but it says something more about the quality of the competition.

Her is a film that has something to say about evolving relationships in the modern world through a unique relationship between a man and his phone, resulting in a beautiful masterpiece of a film.

CAST: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, Chris Pratt, and Scarlett Johansson

Warner Bros. released Her in theaters on December 18, 2013. Grade: 4.5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.