In his new feature film, Spike Jonze develops his own unique take on unconventional romance by depicting a society where one’s relationship with an operating system is completely acceptable. Her, however, is much more of a story than a simple human-robot love affair. The story follows the characters of Theodore and Samantha as they first befriend each other, engage in casual sex, fall in love, fight and eventually break up. The one major aspect that defines their relationship from a conventional one is the fact that the robotic Samantha does not actually have a body.

It was wise of Jonze not to overcomplicate their affair. By depicting their romance as something simple and casual, Jonze shocks the audience with a futuristic image that many prefer to ignore: a society where love letters are ordered, operating systems replace wives and verbal communications through electronic devices have become commonplace. Yet beyond these global societal implications, Her remains a drama that focuses on individuals rather than to society as a whole. The pivotal concept of communication is presented through dialogue between Theodore and Samantha as it is the key factor in the development of their affair. The audience is invited to appreciate this convention through several ways that emphasize the significance of sound; for example, the use of the fade-to-black edit during Theodore and Samantha’s intimate conversation. In addition, the sound envelops the audience and often contributes to the overall mood. A clear example is the melodic soundtrack which conveyed Theodore’s melancholic state. The spot light, without doubt, belongs to the actors who portrayed Theodore and Samantha. Without Joaquin Phoenix’ vivid visual presentation and Scarlett Johansson’s strong vocal qualities, the contrast in their emotions would never be as clear to the audience.

Overall, Her may persuade one to search for universal implications and meanings, while influencing others to revise the concept of authenticity in human affairs. Yet the spectators who do not tend to over-analyze are invited to simply enjoy a touching drama that is focused on a melancholic writer, his neighbor, ex-wife and an operating system.

Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson portray the casual romance between melancholic writer Theodore and operating system Samantha in Her (2013).

Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson portray the casual romance between melancholic writer Theodore and operating system Samantha in Her (2013).

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