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‘Her’ brilliantly made, but not brilliant

Chelsea Sherlock, Movie Reviewer

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The world in which “Her” is set just a little off from our own. Writer and director Spike Jonze worked to slightly modify the movie’s style to create an environment that is familiar but remains different and distant.

The movie utilizes warm tones, particularly orange and red, along with a new clothing style that doesn’t include belts and jackets. Buildings are modern, and there is a utopian feel.

The biggest distinguisher is that in the world of “Her,” voice recognition software, well, works. Gone are the days of asking Siri if it’s going to snow, and she responds with “no results found.” Instead, with the creation of a new operating system, OS1, users can easily carry on conversations with the software as it adapts and learns. It even possesses initiative, organizing files for users, and in the case of the main character, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix),  planning a blind date.

Theodore works at beautifullyhandwrittenletters.com (Note: this is a real website address that directs users to the movie’s official website). He uses software at work to dictate beautifully worded letters from people, such as love letters, condolences and thank yous. Lonely and struggling to handle the emotions from his recent divorce from Catherine (Rooney Mara), Theodore purchases the new OS1 after seeing an advertisement on his way home. He sets the software’s voice to that of Samantha (Scarlett Johansson). Right away, he and Samantha become friends as she organizes his computer and makes jokes with him.

I’m just going to be honest: Scarlett Johansson has a sexy voice. I think it’s highly likely that if I were the voice Theodore was listening to and said the same things she did, he would not have fallen in love.

As you would expect from a film taglined “A Spike Jonze Love Story,” Theodore and Samantha begin to fall in love. But it is a complicated relationship, with one member a human with physical needs and the other a supercomputer struggling to handle her developing thoughts and feelings.

Theodore isn’t the only one who deals with the implications of a relationship with an operating system. Amy (Amy Adams), his female best friend, also develops a relationship with her OS1.

“Her” will definitely leave viewers with questions. It asks viewers to decide what the nature of love is and whether love can exist without the possibility of physical interaction.

Jonze does an excellent job of making scenes that occur between just one actor and a voice enjoyable and compelling. He paces the movie well, dwelling on emotive shots. However, the film seemed to be lacking that wow factor I expect from a well-received movie nominated for five Oscars, including best motion picture and best writing/original screenplay. 

While this movie is a great watch, I wouldn’t consider it so brilliant that I would tell everyone I know to watch it. If you are intrigued by the premise, go see it. Be prepared for a couple of awkward person-on-computer sex scenes. Overall, I give the movie an A-.

Email: chelseasherlock2017@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @musovogr

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About the Writer
Chelsea Sherlock, Design Editor

Chelsea Sherlock is a design editor of The Daily and a Medill sophomore. Her past positions include Current columnist, Current profiler, Current TV reviewer, Campus reporter, assistant design editor, Holiday Guide design editor and design editor. She is from Sumner, Mich. Her other campus commitments include Cru and Chi Omega Sorority. She is also an associate editor of Medill Magazine and is the Medill Marketing and Communication press corps chair of Northwestern University Model United Nations.