“Her” is not funny. “Her” is frightening.
Set in the near future, it shows people walking around in Los Angeles, seemingly talking to themselves. In fact, they are talking to their computers, connected to them through tiny earplugs. In their midst is Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely-heart edging toward divorce and working as a professional writer of love letters for other people.
An advertisement alerts him to the answer in his search for solace. An operating system, OSI, provides him with “Samantha,” disembodied sweet/sexy voice of Scarlett Johansson. Samantha is the perfect mate. She wakes him in the morning, puts him to sleep at night, answers his emails, organizes his files, pays his bills, reads books, writes music, has intimate conversations and, eventually, becomes his sex partner…the ultimate longtime companion, with no strings, no commitment.
Well, not exactly. Poor Theodore grows completely co-dependent, submerging into real love with his unreal cyber girl. When signing his divorce papers, ex-wife Catherine (Rooney Mara) asks if he’s “seeing anyone.” He says, “Yes,” explaining that she’s an OS. Shocked, Catherine snaps, “So you’re f---ing your laptop!” blasting him for being weak, self-absorbed and irresponsible.
Phoenix continues the tortured characterization that he pinpointed so painfully in last year’s “The Master.” At times, he’s the personification of an anxiety attack….so inside himself, he may suffocate.
Is Samantha really the answer? If so, we’re heading toward a sad cyber future.