Her is surprisingly sweet

Since the Oscar nominees have recently been announced, The Featherduster staff has decided to review all of the movies nominated for best picture.

In Her, Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator, The Master) is Theodore Twombly, a single man who works for a company that writes letters for other people. As he procrastinates on signing his divorce papers, Twombly buys an operating system which he downloads to his computer and personal Bluetooth (which, in the near-future setting of this movie, are now everywhere). This operating system is designed to adapt like an actual human being and to understand the person who purchased it. Twombly’s operating system goes by Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). Over the course of the story, Twombly and Samantha become so close that they date. As odd as the situation sounds, the movie is touching and surprisingly relatable.

When one watches the trailer for Her, it’s hard not to jump to conclusions, to assume that Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovitch, Where the Wild Things Are) had made a film that, like so many others, lectures its audience about how the world is addicted to technology and that we are all just slaves to the machine. Going into the film, I was skeptical. But Jonze only lightly touches on the technology portion of this film and focuses on what is really important in a love story — emotion.

The idea of falling in love with someone whom one has never met is certainly in the public’s mind right now. The show Catfish is entirely based on that premise, and it is happening to real people every day with tools such as social media and Skype. The difference between Her and Catfish, however, is the hopeful outlook. Her isn’t a happy film, but it shows that love is possible in extremely unexpected places. There is no doubt in the viewer’s mind while watching Her that Theodore and Samantha are in love, even in their unusual circumstances.

Though the love story is endearing, I don’t think that it’s the best part of the film. The color scheme and directing elements add a cerebral tone that make this movie like no other. Twombly often looks out of his window from his neon-colored apartment to the gray outdoors. Light is always emanating from some bright red or yellow wall panel. This ambient light helps the audience understand the futuristic setting without pushing it on them. In most of the scenes, Twombly is alone in a room talking to Samantha. With another actor or with different lines, the majority of the film may be awkward, but the use of classical music, lighting, and camera angles show the mood of the scene so well that the film flows naturally.

Overall, Jonze did a spectacular job. He taught his audience about relationships without talking down to them. He portrayed a technologically dependent future without showing it as dystopian. Jonze tried something very new, and it worked like a charm.

(Disclaimer: Her is rated R for sex and profanity.)