Kat’s review published on Letterboxd:
"You're mine or you're not mine."
"No, Theodore. I'm yours and I'm not yours."
Her conjures up overwhelming feelings of softness inside me; maybe it's the gentle use of the colour red, the hazy natural sunlight that shades the film so perfectly. Maybe it's the gorgeous OST by Arcade Fire, featuring muted electronics and piano. Maybe it's Joaquin Phoenix's transformative performance: in Her, he becomes Theodore Twombly.
Her builds a beautiful city, fills it with technology in the form of screens and people staring at devices, and instead of passing this off as dystopia, opens itself up to the sky. The film's cityscape is defined by it's relationship to technology, a kind of organic relationship that links cyber with natural, and it's beautiful. The film treats the relationship between people and technology in a similar way: from the opening scene we enter a world in which man and computer coexist in new and intriguing ways. This kind of relationship appears again in the actual format of the film, in the difference between what we hear (Samantha and Theodore's conversations) and what we see (Theodore alone; Theodore smiling at something Samantha has said; flashbacks to Theodore's past) Like the music and the cinematography (a piece of music is a photograph), they complete each other.
For a film with a premise such as this one, it's surprising that the view of technology is so nuanced. There's no condemnation of the way we live today. Theodore's ex-wife Catherine (Rooney Mara; ethereally beautiful) criticises the relationship that Theodore forms with Samantha, but she and Theodore are different, just like Samantha and Theodore are different. His best friend Amy (Amy Adams, in a small but incredible role performed naturalistically) understands. When Theodore is out with Samantha, he's closer to humanity, be it his friends or the strangers he smiles at. Samantha brings Theodore out of his self-isolation and back to others.
Her is both soothing and upsetting. It's both funny and deeply melancholic. It's artifice and it's art. It dives into loneliness and the inevitable unknowability of others only to form a great connection to every single person.