Her

In the very near future, everyone will have bad haircuts and ill-fitting but colorful clothing. And men will wear their pants hiked up high.

One of the more interesting bits in Spike Jonze’s movie “Her” is that he portrays the future not as a gray, regimented, dystopian place where all thoughts and actions are controlled by some totalitarian government, but one in which technology has taken the very next step making our lives more organized and efficient. In that way, it’s not a very different world than the one in which we live.

But that’s not what “Her” is about. It’s really an examination of the nature of our relationships with one another, told with the added template of technology’s effect on them. Already we see people encasing themselves into small worlds not much bigger than their smartphones and tablets, so why not the next step of falling in love with them? Don’t some of us already love our phones?

Because of this, the film has a permafrost of sadness. Not because it’s a very old, sad tale of finding and then losing love, but because it shows us the way we long for, and yet fear, real connections with real people.

The plot of “Her,” simplified, reads “man falls in love with computer.” As such, there’s probably an alternate universe where this is a bad Will Ferrell comedy vehicle, and the plot is very nearly in danger of being laughable and stupid to the point of distraction. What saves it here is Joaquin Phoenix at the top of his game selling the story with complete believability, and he lets us see the metaphor for all our relationships by being unassuming, unthreatening and a bit nerdy.

Amy Adams (my longstanding crush on her is unabated) and Rooney Mara have great turns here as well. Scarlett Johannson helps to sell the story and make it real without ever being seen on camera.

Spike Jonze is an audacious filmmaker, willing to take big risks (like a dumb plot) and fall flat on his face with it. But he makes “Her” work in a completely surprising, completely affecting, completely real way.

There’s a reason “Her” is winning tons of art house awards. Check it out. Five OS’s out of five.

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