As Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ won the Oscar for the best original screenplay, I finally sat myself down to watch the film because I simply couldn’t do it on Valentine’s Day. And guess what, Her is a rare delight both to the eyes and the heart.
In the not-too-distant future, LA’s skyline is still tinted with glassy skyscrapers, orange and beige are the favorite colors of the season and letter-writing makes a comeback big time.
Joaquin Phoenix is Theodore Twombly, a middle –aged ‘professional letter-writer’ who falls in love with his intuitive operating system, Samantha. As absurd as it sounds, you actually get with it. That’s the beauty of the film’s screenplay; it is vivid and imaginative without feeling contrived. The basic premise is fairly straight-forward, but it is the intimate conversations and the crisp pace that take the cake here. There is a lot of depth and honesty to the characters, which is complemented succinctly by the amazing background score.
What is also note-worthy is the fact that the technological aspect depicted in Her does not take away anything from the raw emotions on display. Occasionally, one can see glimpses of Craig Gillespie’s Ryan Gosling starrer ‘Lars and the Real Girl’ where Gosling develops a relationship with a doll, but the treatment of both these stories is very different.
Theodore is portrayed very well by Joaquin Phoenix. The complexities of the character, his small triumphs and the heart-felt camaraderie with Samantha are enacted sincerely by Phoenix. It is Samantha’s character, however, that is the highlight of the film and I can’t imagine anyone else but Scarlett Johansson as the funny, super-smart operating system. Her sultry voice does what her face does for most her roles usually, as she hits the right notes throughout the film. Amy Adams who plays Theodore’s long-time friend and confidante shines in a role that is the exact opposite of her American Hustle avatar. Rooney Mara and Olivia Wilde also do justice to their individual scenes.
Some of the best sequences, however, are the video montage cutaways that dwell on you long after the film is over. And so does the lingering message. It is different for everyone. Most days I find myself craving for some alone time. And then i look at Theodore’s life and wonder if it’s worth all that.
A subtle message also vibrates in a scene where Chris Pratt’s character Paul (Theodore’s work colleague) isn’t judgmental of Theodore and Samantha’s relationship. And I was left thinking, a future where one can love anyone unconditionally without being judged, is the kind of future I’d like to live in.