Directed by: Spike Jonze
It's a weird movie.
Her takes place in a slightly futuristic world where a new computer operating system (also known as OS 1) is invented to help people with normal computer related tasks. The OS 1 has a personality, massive intelligence, and capability to become more and more human as it adapts and learns from the world around it. When created, it names itself or "herself" Samantha (Voiced by Scarlett Johansson). Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is a semi-depressed writer who finds himself slowly losing touch with the outside world. He desires more human interaction, but finds it difficult, since coming out of a divorce. When he gets his OS 1 (or when he meets Samantha for the first time), he is charmed by the personality and curiosity that she acquires. Everything about Samantha is human, except for her form. He listens to her voice through an earpiece, and he carries around a mini camera, so that she can see what he sees. Theodore starts to fall in love with Samantha as he starts opening up to her, and the two start (it feels wrong to say) dating. Long story short, Samantha helps Theodore see the life in the world around him. He begins to feel connected, loved and happy for the first time. Nonetheless, there are still problems. Despite the happiness they share together, Samantha grows upset that she doesn't have a body. She was never built with the intention to experience emotion, yet she evolves.
One might call this movie a cyber-love story, but it touches on bigger subjects than just romance. Her poses many questions like, "What is reality? Emotion? What makes up intimacy? What is love? How do we know what a real relationship is?" As Christians, we should be alarmed when the world tries redefining these subjects. Before I get into that, I would first like to address the movie from a filmmaker's perspective.
ACTING: For a film that almost entirely follows one character, you better find someone with big screen presence. This is why I felt Joaquin Phoenix was perfectly casted. After coming from roles like Commodus (Gladiator) and Jonny Cash (Walk the Line), Phoenix brings a subtle quirkiness to his character that makes him fun to watch. When he laughs at one of Samantha's jokes, I believe it. When he is sad from heartbreak, I feel his pain. He was left to respond only to a voice most of the movie, and everything felt convincing. Needless to say, Phoenix brings the acting level that this story needed.
Scarlett Johansson, although only voice acting, had a wonderful performance. With her smooth caring voice, she was able make the audience emotionally invested. For a character that you never see, I felt closer to her than most characters in the movie.
There were a few other female roles. Amy Adams, who plays Theodore's old friend since college, brought a faint whimsicality with a touch of charisma, which played very well with Joaquin Phoenix's character. Rooney Mara and Olivia Wilde also had roles, but they were hardly more than background actors due to their brevity.
DIRECTING: The film is dialogue-driven, yet I found it more stimulating than most of my favorite action movies. With compelling angles, slower contemplative pacing, and a creative color scheme, Her successfully provokes the audience to feel emotionally involved.
A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE
Now, when I talk about the things I like about her from a filmmaker's perspective, don't jump to the conclusion that I condone everything in the movie. Regardless of the aspects that I liked, the film had unbiblical themes and actions. We will start with language.
Ephesians 4:29 - "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."
To say that this movie graces my ears with it's language would be a lie. The f-word, s-word, and a-word are all used multiple times. (f-word is used the most.) There is also other crude and sexual remarks. Although I am used to hearing this language everywhere else in the world, I can't bring myself to ignore that words and phrases like these are wrong.
Matthew 15:19 - "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander."
It's expected that a secular movie about romance will have sexual content. This is rated R, so sex isn't really implied, but blatantly talked about. One of the saddest parts of the movie was the overt reminder that the world cannot define love without sex. If you decide to watch this movie, keep in mind that there are red flags. Theodore at one point, looks at a scandalous photo of a pregnant woman (who is practically naked), then later imagines her during a session of phone sex. (Female nudity is shown.) Phone sex, is shortly explored in the movie. Although it's intended to be comical, I found it uncomfortable and disturbing. It get's more strange. Theodore later experiences verbal "sex" with Samantha (although only audio with a black screen), this scene lasts about a minute. Later in the movie Theodore and another woman start kissing passionately, but they stop before anything else happens. Samantha, during a conversation with Ted, draws a disturbingly crude and sexual drawing. This is also meant to be comical. There are also other sexual references, all of which don't help the story and are completely unnecessary. I saw this movie with a friend, and we both sat there uncomfortable, looking at each other during each inappropriate part. Compared to most movies, this one was tame, but this is not an excuse for overlooking it's content! Christians shouldn't be comparing bad movies with bad movies, but comparing bad movies, with the good word. God is very clear on what he thinks about sexual immorality.
OTHER NEGATIVE ELEMENTS:
Theodore struggles with loneliness, and to battles it by trying to find emotional connections with other people. This supports the world's idea that loneliness, depression, and sadness can only be cured by other people and finding an emotional connection with them. As Christians we understand that true joy and happiness can only be found with a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1-2 says, "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God."
The world looks for hope and joy in temporary things. Whether it's sex, money, work, family, friends, love, etc. none of them will last. Christians have hope, even in hard times. We understand that life on this world is not a destination, but a journey. Our destination ends with eternal life with our savior Jesus Christ. "...we rejoice in hope of the glory of God." Theodore starts to pursue a relationship in hope that it will mend his broken heart, but this is can’t fulfill. Even by the end of the movie (Spoiler Alert), Samantha leaves Theodore, and he realizes that the thing he needed the most was human interaction. The movie ends with the overall message that loneliness can be cured with human connection. Although I would agree that dating a human is better than dating a computer (I hope everyone agrees), but don’t miss the point. Understand that a relationship with Christ is more important than any kind of relationship. It’s the only one that lasts. God will be there for you in hard times if you are one of his children.
Isaiah 58:11 – “And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”
The temptation to laugh at and accept what the world accepts will grow more and more if you do not battle it with a biblical perspective. Despite its positive elements, I would not recommend this movie. I am not about to condone sinful behavior just because I found other favorable aspects. We can't say we liked a movie just because we choose to ignore the sin in it. So keep that in mind, if you choose to watch her.