Love in the Computer Age
By Skip Sheffield
And I love “Her”
It’s a line from a Beatles song and it is also the title of an oddly touching comedy-romance by director Spike Jonze (“Where The Wild Things Are”) from his original script.
This is the first time Jonze has directed his own script, and what a wildly imaginative and emotive script it is.
Jonze astutely cast Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore Twombly, a broken-hearted romantic who makes a living writing sentimental and sincere letters for those unwilling or unable to do it themselves at a Los Angeles company called Beautiful Letters.com. Despite the fact his longtime girlfriend has left him, Theodore continues to write convincing personal messages for anniversaries, thank-yous, condolences and so forth.
Theodore is a thorough technological geek, and when he learns about a new, extremely advanced computer operating system, he takes the plunge.
“It’s not just an operating system,” asserts the promotional pitch. “It is a consciousness.”
Psychological testing is required to power up the system so the computer will know the client’s likes, dislike, joys, sorrows and fears. The system is accessed via an ear phone and is given a voice, either male or female. Theodore chooses a female and names her Samantha.
In another astute casting decision, the voice of Samantha is spoken by Scarlett Johansson, an actress whose voice is every bit as luscious as her face and body.
Thereby lies the central dilemma for Theodore. The more Samantha knows about him and caters to his every desire and need, the more he falls in love with her- despite the fact she is not real.
This is also the source of some wry humor. Theodore’s friends think he is nutty. His ex-girlfriend (Rooney Mara) thinks he is seriously disturbed. Only Amy (Amy Adams in another inspired casting) is sympathetic to Theo’s plight.
“Her” is a witty, thoughtful movie for anyone who has loved and lost, or for anyone who just wants someone, or even just something, to love.