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Friday, 03 January 2014 00:00

'Her' asks a lot of Artificial Intelligence + Video

'Her' asks a lot of Artificial Intelligence www.herthemovie.com
Written by Martha K. Baker
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About this Media...

  • Director: Spike Jones
  • Dates: Opened January 3, 2014

Always a little on the outside of things, Spike Jonze has written and directed a film that takes place about an L.A. minute beyond next year. "Her" is set in the near future when companies will write heartfelt letters for strangers and when men might fall in love with a bought woman.

needs of others, very canny with words. He's a poet. So when his wife departs, he is crushed. He is left with admiring co-workers, including Amy, his neighbor. He tries to date a bit, but he's too down, so when the opportunity to buy a woman comes along, he signs on. She is not just any woman, however: she's an operating system programmed singularly to his needs. She calls herself Samantha.

She encourages Theodore. She loves him and makes love to him, and she arranges for a real flesh-and-blood woman to fill her shoes, the ones kicked off by the bedside, but Theodore just can't do that. He returns to the disembodied woman for succor.

What will become of this man? Will his wife take him back? Will he find true love in his friend Amy, whose husband may not stay any longer than Theodore's wife did? Will Theodore find himself or remain alone and apart?

Joaquin Phoenix is charged with bringing Theodore to life. Phoenix plays the part lying down, his voice more robotic than romantic. Amy is played by a disheveled Amy Adams without the moxie she brings to "American Hustle." Smaller roles are taken by Chris Pratt ("Parks and Recreation") and Bill Hader from SNL, the source also for Kristen Wiig, who plays Sexy Kitten. Rooney Mara ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") plays Theodore's former wife. And the voice of Samantha is played by Scarlett Johansson in an amazing feat of bodiless acting. That voice is so recognizable that it comes freighted with the sensuality that Johansson is known for. The role was originally played by Samantha Morton, one of Jonze's company, but he deemed her work too maternal for the part, which gets sexy from Johansson's throat.

At some point in its production, "Her" was two and a half hours long. Stephen Soderbergh was asked by Spike Jonze to serve as a consulting editor, and Soderbergh took "Her" to 90 minutes. Jonze took it back to 2 hours, but it's still too long. Jonze, born Adam Spiegel (and under that name, he plays a bit part), is best known for "Making John Malkovich" and for pushing envelopes full of film, but "Her" pushes boredom.

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