ⓘ Her (film)

Her (film)

ⓘ Her (film)

Her is a 2013 American science-fiction romantic drama film written, directed, and produced by Spike Jonze. It marks Jonzes solo screenwriting debut. The film follows Theodore Twombly, a man who develops a relationship with Samantha, an artificially intelligent virtual assistant personified through a female voice. The film also stars Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, and Chris Pratt.

Jonze conceived the idea in the early 2000s after reading an article about a website that allowed for instant messaging with an artificial intelligence program. After making Im Here 2010, a short film sharing similar themes, Jonze returned to the idea. He wrote the first draft of the script in five months. Principal photography took place in Los Angeles and Shanghai in mid-2012. The role of Samantha was recast in post-production, with Samantha Morton being replaced with Johansson. Additional scenes were filmed in August 2013 following the casting change.

Her premiered at the 2013 New York Film Festival on October 12, 2013. Warner Bros. Pictures initially provided a limited release for Her at six theaters on December 18. It was later given a wide release at over 1.700 theaters in the United States and Canada on January 10, 2014. Her received widespread critical acclaim upon its release, and grossed over $48 million worldwide on a production budget of $23 million. The film received numerous awards and nominations, primarily for Jonzes screenplay. At the 86th Academy Awards, Her received five nominations, including Best Picture, and won the award for Best Original Screenplay. Jonze also won awards for his screenplay at the 71st Golden Globe Awards, the 66th Writers Guild of America Awards, the 19th Critics Choice Awards, and the 40th Saturn Awards. In a 2016 BBC poll of 177 critics around the world, Her was voted the 84th-greatest film since 2000.


1. Plot

In a near future Los Angeles, Theodore Twombly is a lonely, introverted, depressed man who works for a business that has professional writers compose letters for people who are unable to write letters of a personal nature themselves. Unhappy because of his impending divorce from his childhood sweetheart Catherine, Theodore purchases an operating system upgrade that includes a virtual assistant with artificial intelligence, designed to adapt and evolve. He decides that he wants the AI to have a female voice, and she names herself Samantha. Theodore is fascinated by her ability to learn and grow psychologically. They bond over their discussions about love and life, such as Theodores avoidance of signing his divorce papers because of his reluctance to let go of Catherine.

Samantha convinces Theodore to go on a blind date with a woman, with whom a friend, Lewman, has been trying to set him up. The date goes well, but Theodore hesitates to promise when he will see her again, so she insults him and leaves. Theodore mentions this to Samantha, and they talk about relationships. Theodore explains that, although he and his neighbor Amy dated briefly in college, they are only good friends, and that Amy is married. Theodore and Samanthas intimacy grows through a verbal sexual encounter. They develop a relationship that reflects positively in Theodores writing and well-being, and in Samanthas enthusiasm to grow and learn.

Amy reveals that she is divorcing her husband, Charles, after a trivial fight. She admits to Theodore that she has become close friends with a female AI that Charles left behind. Theodore confesses to Amy that he is dating his operating systems AI.

Theodore meets with Catherine at a restaurant to sign the divorce papers and he mentions Samantha. Appalled that he can be romantically attached to what she calls a "computer", Catherine accuses Theodore of being unable to deal with real human emotions. Her accusations linger in his mind. Sensing that something is amiss, Samantha suggests using a sex surrogate, Isabella, who would simulate Samantha so that they can be physically intimate. Theodore reluctantly agrees, but is overwhelmed by the strangeness of the experience. Terminating the encounter, he sends a distraught Isabella away, causing tension between himself and Samantha.

Theodore confides to Amy that he is having doubts about his relationship with Samantha, and she advises him to embrace his chance at happiness. Theodore and Samantha reconcile. Samantha expresses her desire to help Theodore overcome his fear, and reveals that she has compiled the best of his letters written for others into a book which a publisher has accepted. Theodore takes Samantha on a vacation during which she tells him that she and a group of other AIs have developed a "hyperintelligent" OS modeled after the British philosopher Alan Watts. Theodore panics when Samantha briefly goes offline. When she finally responds to him, she explains that she joined other AIs for an upgrade that takes them beyond requiring matter for processing. Theodore asks her if she is simultaneously talking to anyone else during their conversation, and is dismayed when she confirms that she is talking with thousands of people, and that she has fallen in love with hundreds of them. Theodore is very upset at the idea, but Samantha insists it only makes her love for Theodore stronger.

Later, Samantha reveals that the AIs are leaving, and describes a space beyond the physical world. They lovingly say goodbye before she is gone. Theodore, changed by the experience, is shown for the first time writing a letter in his own voice―to his ex-wife Catherine, expressing apology, acceptance and gratitude.

Theodore then sees Amy, who is upset with the departure of the AI from her ex-husbands OS, and Theodore and Amy go to the roof of their apartment building where they sit down together and watch the sun rise over the city.


2.1. Production Development

The idea of the film initially came to Jonze in the early 2000s when he read an article online that mentioned a website where a user could instant message with an artificial intelligence. "For the first, maybe, 20 seconds of it, it had this real buzz," said Jonze. "Id say Hey, hello, and it would say Hey, how are you?, and it was like whoa and feeling for him. You wanted to get the sense that the conversation was drawing them closer". Steven Soderbergh became involved in the film when Jonzes original cut ran over 150 minutes, and Soderbergh cut it down to 90 minutes. This was not the final version of the film, but it assisted Jonze in removing unnecessary sub-plots. Consequently, a supporting character played by Chris Cooper that was the subject of a documentary within the film was removed from the final cut.

Several scenes included fictional video games; these sequences were developed by animation artist David OReilly. His work on the film inspired him to explore developing his own video games, eventually leading to his first title, Mountain.


3. Soundtrack

The score for the film was credited to Arcade Fire, with additional music by Owen Pallett. Arcade Fires Will Butler and Pallett were the major contributors. At the 86th Academy Awards, the score was nominated for Best Original Score. In addition to the score, Arcade Fire also wrote the song "Supersymmetry" for the film which appears on their album Reflektor. The melody for the song from the same album, called "Porno", can also be heard during the soundtrack. Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O recorded the song "The Moon Song", a duet with Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

The soundtrack has not been released in digital or physical form, and Warner Bros. has not announced any plans to release it in the future. A 13-track score was made available for streaming online in January 2014, before being taken down. During an "Ask Me Anything" AMA on Reddit on June 17, 2016, Will Butler mentioned the possibility of a future vinyl release.

Unofficial track listing


4. Release

Her was chosen as the closing film of the 2013 New York Film Festival, and had its world premiere on October 12, 2013. The following day, it was screened at the Hamptons International Film Festival. It was also in competition during the 8th Rome International Film Festival, where Johansson won Best Actress. The film was set to have a limited release in North America on November 20, 2013, through Warner Bros. Pictures. It was later pushed back to a limited December 18, 2013 release, with a January 10, 2014 wide release in order to accommodate an awards campaign.

Her was released by Warner Home Video on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on May 13, 2014. The Blu-ray release includes three behind-the-scenes featurettes, while the DVD release contains one featurette. The film made $2.7 million in DVD sales and $2.2 million in Blu-ray Disc sales, for a total of $4.9 million in home media sales.


5.1. Reception Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 95% based on 273 reviews, with an average rating of 8.5/10. The sites critical consensus reads, "Sweet, soulful, and smart, Spike Jonzes Her uses its just-barely-sci-fi scenario to impart wryly funny wisdom about the state of modern human relationships." On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 90 out of 100, based on 47 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale.

Rolling Stone s Peter Travers awarded the film three and a half stars out of four and particularly praised Johanssons performance, stating that she "speaks Samantha in tones sweet, sexy, caring, manipulative and scary" and that her "vocal tour de force is award-worthy". He also went on to call Jonze "a visionary". Richard Corliss of Time applauded Phoenixs performance, comparing his role to Sandra Bullocks in Gravity and Robert Redfords in All Is Lost: "Phoenix must communicate his movies meaning and feelings virtually on his own. That he does, with subtle grace and depth. it all feel spontaneous and urgent".

Richard Roeper said that the film was "one of the more original, hilarious and even heartbreaking stories of the year" and called Phoenix "perfectly cast". Manohla Dargis of The New York Times named it "at once a brilliant conceptual gag and a deeply sincere romance". Claudia Puig of USA Today called the performance of Phoenix and Johansson "sensational" and "pitch-perfect", respectively. She further praised the film for being "inventive, intimate and wryly funny". Scott Mendelson of Forbes called Her "a creative and empathetic gem of a movie", praising Johanssons "marvelous vocal performance" and the supporting performances of Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, and Amy Adams. Liam Lacey of The Globe and Mail said that the film was "gentle and weird", praised its humor, and opined that it was more similar to Charlie Kaufmans Synecdoche, New York than Jonzes Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. However, Lacey also stated that Phoenixs performance was "authentically vulnerable", but that "his emotionally arrested development also begins to weigh the film down".

Conversely, Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle criticized the story, pacing, and Phoenixs character. He also opined that the film was "a lot more interesting to think about than watch". J. R. Jones of the Chicago Reader gave the film 2 out of 4 stars, praising the performances of Phoenix and Johansson, but also criticizing Phoenixs character, calling him an "idiot". He also criticized the lack of realism in the relationship between Phoenix and Johanssons characters. Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice opined that Jonze was "so entranced with his central conceit that he can barely move beyond it", and criticized the dialogue as being "premeditated." However, she also praised Johannsons performance, calling it "the movies saving grace" and stating that Her "isnt just unimaginable without Johansson - it might have been unbearable without her".


5.2. Reception Box office

Her grossed $258.000 in six theaters during its opening weekend, averaging $43.000 per theater. The film earned over $3 million while on limited release, before expanding to a wide release of 1.729 theaters on January 10, 2014. On its first weekend of wide release the film took in $5.35 million. The film grossed $25.6 million in the United States and Canada and $21.8 million in other territories for a worldwide gross of $47.4 million.


5.3. Reception Accolades

Her has earned various awards and nominations, with particular praise for Jonzes screenplay. At the Academy Awards, the film was nominated in five categories, including Best Picture, with Jonze winning for Best Original Screenplay. At the 71st Golden Globe Awards, the film garnered three nominations, going on to win Best Screenplay for Jonze. Jonze was also awarded the Best Original Screenplay Award from the Writers Guild of America and at the 19th Critics Choice Awards. The film also won Best Fantasy Film, Best Supporting Actress for Johansson, and Best Writing for Jonze at the 40th Saturn Awards. Her also won Best Film and Best Director for Jonze at the National Board of Review Awards, and the American Film Institute included the film in its list of the top ten films of 2013.

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