Her is one of those films that summaries can only ever grasp at. It is pure and brilliant science fiction, one with a premise that seems more like a joke than anything else and certainly starts off like one. Yet, Spike Jonze gathers a mesmerizing cast of characters and manages to tell a story that examines how we live today and meditates on the most fundamental parts of being human. Joaquin Phoenix, despite spending most of his screen time talking to the disembodied voice of Scarlett Johansson, is so enveloped and believable in the role that one often forgets there is nobody in the room with him. Johansson, providing the voice of the joyfully child-like OS Samantha, dominates every second of “screen time” and manages to express the full range of human expression and emotion, to the best extent that an A.I. can do as it learns what it means to be human and deals with the repercussions of evolving faster than those around her. Finally, Amy Adams gives a fantastic performance as Theodore’s long-term friend, who lives through her own movie off-screen and provides context to a world where OS’s are quickly becoming the norm.
There are many other aspects of Her that I could talk about for ages: the gorgeous cinematography, the eye-catching architectural design, the visceral color palettes, and the fantastic soundtrack music fronted by Arcade Fire and Karen O. Instead, I’ll tell you what everyone else has already said: this movie is one of the best of 2013, and anyone who hasn’t seen it is missing out.