"Her" is a beautiful movie in every way, from the script to the performances to what appears on the screen.
It's an admittedly silly premise: set in a future that looks believably close to our world, Joaquin Phoenix is Theodore, a lonely man on the precipice of divorce who falls in love with his new operating system. Scarlett Johansson voices the O.S. calling itself "Samantha," so who can blame Theodore for falling for her?
But the premise isn't played for laughs, nor is writer and director Spike Jonze simply satirizing our growing obsession with technology. That would be too easy, and merely scratching the surface. He's digging much deeper into the human condition and the need for relationships.
Phoenix is mesmerizing and it's even more impressive when you consider how much time he spends alone on screen, talking to no one, his eyes anxiously searching, desperate for what Samantha will say next.
Amy Adams is important as a close friend for Theodore who has her own emotional wounds and Johansson's wonderful performance as Samantha is the best case yet for voice work Oscars.
"Her" is both funny and a deeply moving character study. I also love Jonze's vision of the future from the beautiful cityscape to the living spaces and offices, and even the way the clothing styles seem to have gone backwards in the cyclical way fashion works. With the wrong choice, any of these aspects could have made "Her" a cheesy disaster. But jonze makes the right calls every time.
It's science fiction with a lot of truth. The point of it is, while technology will continue to develop and change, the basics of what makes us human stay the same.
This is one special movie.
EPPLER'S RATING: * * * * *
Out of five stars