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Actually, She’s Not Alive

The 'Her’ here is an operating system

January 8, 2014, 12:00 am
In the sort-of utopian not-too-distant future, men wear high-waisted pants and mustaches without irony. Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with his operating system, Samantha, which is voiced by an awards-caliber Scarlett Johansson.

It sounds crazy. And creepy. Though how far are we from that reality? We’re already in love with our gadgets; why shouldn’t it plausible that someone invents an operating system that has artificial intelligence? And why couldn’t that operating system fall in love with its user, and vice versa?

There are complications. Samantha has no body and her attempts to find a surrogate backfire. Plus, as she grows in strength and intellect—the operating systems keep learning—she becomes more distant from Theodore as she seeks knowledge and experience from other people and machines. But in the end, it becomes a relationship not unlike other relationships: It grows and changes.

has problems: It views relationships through a straight-male lens; none of the women talks about anything other than her relationships with men; and there’s one couple (Amy Adams and Matt Letscher) that’s so stereotypically mid-20th century, it feels as if they’re only slightly more evolved than Hugh Beaumont and Barbara Billingsley.

But in the end, Her is a surprisingly sweet, melancholy, and touching meditation on how we manage relationships.

Written and directed by Spike Jonze
With Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, and Amy Adams
UA DeVargas 6
126 min.


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