Reason for the Rating: Language, sexual content, and brief graphic nudity.
Plot Summary: A lonely man finds comfort in a new computer operating system interacts like it's human.
PopFam Recommends: Her is a beautiful work of art...but it's best reserved for adults only.
What happens when technology gains a personality and mind of its own? Will it be apocalyptic, as is commonly shown in sci-fi movies like Terminator? Will there be all out war between machines and humans? Or will that human-machine relationship be something completely different?
That “different” relationship is what Her is all about, and it’s fascinating to watch.
Nominated for a “Best Picture” Academy Award, Her is focused around the life of Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a man in our not-so-distant future who makes a living writing love letters for strangers. Recently divorced, Theodore is a lonely, slightly depressed man. As he searches for love, he decides to try out a new operating system (OS) that runs on all his devices—computer, cell phone, and so on. In this future, everyone (like Theodore) uses operating systems to organize their day-to-day lives, as well as for internet connections and social contact with other people. Really, these OS programs function as a “personal assistant” for just about anybody and everybody. So when a new “intuitive” OS upgrade comes out, Theodore buys it almost without thinking.
But this new OS is different.
This one can think for itself. The updated OS is programmed so that it will react differently to each individual user, and so it will learn and grow through increased interaction. Theodore’s OS turns out to be a woman named Samantha (voiced incomparably by Scarlett Johansson). At first he uses Samantha as he did his old OS, just as a personal assistant. But soon her personality starts to win him over, and he begins to think of her as a friend instead of just as a computer program.
After a failed date, Theodore comes home lonely and sad. Samantha consoles him, and he realizes that he has feelings for her. Not only does he have feelings for her, but she also expresses feelings for him. They begin an awkward romantic relationship (it’s complicated, but it works!), and Samantha starts to become more and more aware of who she is. At the same time Theodore becomes happier and happier. But what will become of this relationship between man and sentient machine? Well, there are many twists and turns in the story, but I won’t spoil the rest of it for you. To find out what happens next, you’ll just have to see the movie.
This film deals mainly in two types of relationships: the relationships between humans and humans, and the relationships between humans and technology. I had suspected there would be a lot in this movie about humans becoming addicted to technology and the way that people would be more in love with their technology or phones than they were with reality. But the thing that amazed me was that this wasn’t really the case. The relationships with technology in Her tended to encourage human to human relationships rather than detract from them.
Visually, Her is simplistic and yet beautiful. Still, what’s really interesting about this film is, well, how interesting it is—despite a lack of action and movement. It really is, mostly, a conversation between Theodore and Samantha. As Samantha only has a voice and no body, when the two have a conversation, the only one that can be seen is Theodore. Joaquin Phoenix really does an excellent job during these scenes showing a wide depth of emotion and great realism of character.
While the acting is great in Her, I was also very impressed with the story. I was completely engrossed in what was going to happen between Theodore and Samantha, and I was engaged in the story through the simplicity of conversation alone. I also was constantly kept guessing through the entire movie, which is not something that regularly happens. I love that kind of unique experience in a film.
One final thing to be noted for parents is that this movie easily earns its “R” rating. There is a lot of foul language and sexual content throughout the movie, including a few graphic “phone sex” moments and a few online porn photos. So, while I really liked this film, I’d recommend it only for adults.
Let’s Talk About It
Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:
• Do you think there will ever be sentient operating systems like Samantha? Why or why not?
• How does Theodore’s relationship with Samantha affect those around him? Explain.
• What place would God have in a relationship like the one between Theodore and Samantha? Describe it.
Tags: Her,Joaquin Phoenix,Scarlett Johansson,Amy Adams,Olivia Wilde,Rooney Mara,Spike Jonze,Siri,Oscars,Academy Awards
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