AFI Fest 2013 Review: Her: O.S. I Love You

An authentic, insightful story about connections and relationships
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Although set in a future version of Los Angeles, Spike Jonze's Her is a tale for all time because of how honestly and accurately it portrays love and relationships. 

When Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is introduced, he is shown expressing his feeling to a loved one. It is quickly revealed that he is working, dictating a letter for a woman who uses his company's services and is apparently too busy or incapable of expressing herself.  Theodore, who is separated from his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara), is similarly withdrawn and like many of this era use technology to distract and fulfill themselves. He plays a 3D adventure video game in his living room and accesses a forum for cybersex with other detached individuals.  

A new operating system, the OS1, comes along.  It has artificial intelligence informed by its programmers and is noted for having a consciousness that can grow and evolve through its experiences. As Theodore sets it up, he chooses a female voice and after it read a book of names in .02 of a second it decides on the name Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson).

Though he has an old college friend in the building, Amy (Amy Adams), and goes out on a date with Amelia (Olivia Wilde), talking with Samantha becomes his main outlet for expression and interaction. They connect in a mental way and have a sexual encounter, which Jonze cuts to black during in an ingenious directing choice, just leaving us with voices in the dark.  As her consciousness grows, so does their relationship, but the more she learns about life the more she wants to expand beyond the limitations of her virtual world. This means she wants to be more than an OS, but what will that mean for their relationship? 

Jonze does an amazing job writing an authentic, insightful story about connections and relationships. As the plot moves along, it never rings a false note. Not only is the situation believable so are the choices all the characters make, resulting in a satisfying ending.  Phoenix and Johansson deliver such brilliant performances it's hard to believe she wasn't brought in until post production to record her lines. We get to see (and in her case, hear) the characters evolve over the course of the movie.  The seamless of their interactions is a testament to both their talents, as well as the sound and editing teams.   

Her is my favorite movie of the year so far, and I'd go so far to rank it as is one of the best love stories in all mediums.

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