Set in near-future Los Angeles, Spike Jonze’s offbeat romantic comedy “Her” eerily rings truer than anything else the movies offer on the subject of love these days.
Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore Twombly, a slightly sad character who makes his living writing “personalized” letters for people. One day an ad for a new computer operating system catches his eye, and he buys it, or rather her. The OS can be personalized and it deduces after a few questions that Theodore would prefer to talk to a woman.
His new friend quickly takes on the sexy voice of Scarlett Johansson and gives herself the name Samantha. She is everything the lonely Theo — who is in the process of divorce — could want in a girlfriend, anticipating all his needs, laughing at his jokes and even having a form of sex.
In the future City of Angels where nothing is jarring, including the pastel colors, and people are comfortable relating to machines, no one thinks Theo’s new love is particularly weird. His boss (Chris Pratt) suggests a double date with him and his girlfriend, Theo and Sam. Longtime friend Amy (Amy Adams) is even having a relationship with her OS. Only his soon-to-be ex (Rooney Mara) finds it disconcerting, but then, who wouldn’t be upset if she were being replaced by a machine.
Jonze, who won the Oscar for best original screenplay, charms us with Samantha. Instead of Terminator-like threats from our hardware, here we are falling in love. Then Theo commits the age-old mistake most of us make in a relationship, wanting to keep the other person in a box, feeling threatened when they grow.
“Her,” one of the best films of last year, may be sci-fi fantasy but much of it isn’t far from what’s around us now, with people finding it easier to relate to video games, fantasy football and TV shows than real people. They are, after all, messy and likely to disappoint you.
DVDs out Tuesday
That Awkward Moment
Orange Is the New Black: Season One
The Dave Clark Five and Beyond: Glad All Over
The First World War: The Complete Series
Royal Shakespeare Co.: Richard II
Eastbound & Down: Fourth Season
Longmire: Second Season
Magic City: Complete Series
Afterlife: Series One
Crocodile Dundee/Crocodile Dundee II Double Feature
Flushed Away/Chicken Run/Wallace & Gromit
The Godfather Part III
Road to El Dorado/Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas/Joseph: King of Dreams
Ultimate Gangsters Collection, Contemporary: Volume 2
Overlord — The Criterion Collection
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Home of the Brave
Follow Rob Lowman on Twitter at: @roblowman1