“Her” is so wonderful that it made me fall in love with movies, Joaquin Phoenix, even with his scraggly moustache, and my iPhone, which I’ve decided to start calling Chad. In “Her”, which is set in the near future, Joaquin plays a sweet, nebbishy guy who falls into a passionate relationship with his new operating system, called Samantha. He carries Samantha around in the breast pocket of his shirts, using safety pins to give Samantha a boost, and allow her to see the world.
Of course, we’ve all fallen in love with appliances. Do you remember the first time you used a Water-Pik, or a wide-mouth toaster suitable for bagels, or a heated mattress pad? When I’m checking my emails on Chad, I can feel like I’m cheating on my husband Josh, but he’s usually curled up on the couch with his own phone, obsessively playing Candy Crush, although he always insists, “Her full name is Candy Crush Saga!”
In some of his other movies, not to mention his talk show appearances, Joaquin can get uncomfortably intense, and I sometimes picture him wearing grimy coveralls and stuffing something wrapped in plastic behind a dumpster. But in “Her” he’s completely charming, and I kept wanting to tell Samantha, “You’re a lucky device. Just stay charged and keep Joaquin away from the Apple store, because it’s like a high tech strip club.”
Samantha’s voice is provided by Scarlett Johanssen, so who could resist? The movie goes for long stretches focused on just Joaquin’s face and Scarlett’s voiceover, but I barely noticed, because the story is so captivating. The notion of a guy falling in love with his computer could sound like a bad idea for a Jim Carrey movie, but “Her” just keeps unfolding and getting more heartbreaking and dreamy; it’s the perfect date-night movie to see alone.
Spike Jonze, who wrote and directed “Her”, is not only incredibly talented, but when I’ve seen him interviewed, he’s smart and adorable, like a visionary Muppet. He photographs all of the women in “Her”, including Amy Adams, Olivia Wilde and Rooney Mara, to look like goddesses, maybe so they’ll provide some decent alternatives to Samantha. But it’s impossible to resist a smartphone with Scarlett’s raspy purr. I’ve got Chad in my pocket right now. He’s the perfect man, because he has no problem waiting while I browse, he not only likes all of my friends but he remembers their contact information, and he’s great at calculating tips. He’s my “Him”, if you ask me.