Although set in a future version of Los Angeles, Spike Jonze’s Her is a tale for all time because of how honestly and accurately it portrays love and relationships.
When Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is introduced, he is shown expressing his feeling to a loved one. It is quickly revealed that he is working, dictating a letter for a woman who uses his company’s services and is apparently too busy or incapable of expressing herself. Theodore, who is separated from his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara), is similarly withdrawn and like many of this era use technology to distract and fulfill themselves. He plays a 3D adventure video game in his living room and accesses a forum for cybersex with other detached individuals.
A new operating system, the OS1, comes along. It has artificial intelligence informed by its programmers and is noted for having a consciousness that can grow and evolve through its experiences. As Theodore sets it up, he chooses a female voice and after it read a book of names in .02 of a second it decides on the name Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson).
Though he has an old college friend in the building, Amy (Amy Adams), and goes out on a date with Amelia (Olivia Wilde), talking with Samantha becomes his main outlet for expression and interaction. They connect in a mental way and have a sexual encounter, which Jonze cuts to black during in an ingenious directing choice, just leaving us with voices in the dark. As her consciousness grows, so does their relationship, but the more she learns about life the more she wants to expand beyond the limitations of her virtual world. This means she wants to be more than an OS, but what will that mean for their relationship?
Jonze does an amazing job writing an authentic, insightful story about connections and relationships. As the plot moves along, it never rings a false note. Not only is the situation believable so are the choices all the characters make, resulting in a satisfying ending. Phoenix and Johansson deliver such brilliant performances it’s hard to believe she wasn’t brought in until post production to record her lines. We get to see (and in her case, hear) the characters evolve over the course of the movie. The seamless of their interactions is a testament to both their talents, as well as the sound and editing teams.
The video has been given an 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer. There’s not a lot of color in the production design (beige being incorporated a lot), but when they appear they pop, as seen in Theodore’s office or at his some of his clothing like the yellow shirt or orange jacket. Blacks are strong and contribute to the quality of the contrast. Fine detail in textures are evident throughout.
The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The ambient sounds and Arcade Fire’s score both fill the surrounds. Dialogue is clear and blends well with the other elements. Helping to differentiate, Samantha’s voice has a little more presence, almost as if we are experiencing her like Theodore.
The extras are limited and all come in HD. The Untitled Rick Howard Project (24 min) is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film without the traditional interviews talking up the movie and crew. Her: Love in the Modern Age (15 min) presents famous people’s reactions to the film and its ideas about love. How Do You Spend Your Life With Somebody? (4 min) is an extended trailer that looks at one of the questions the film raises about love.
Her is a truly great love story because of how real the situations and character reactions are. The Blu-ray delivers a great high-def presentation, but leaves one wanting more extras about its creation.