tn_herHER by Spike Jonze – his fourth feature film in 14 years – is a completely unique movie. It’s a touching relationship drama mixed with light sci-fi and cultural satire that’s somehow brutally accurate and gently affectionate at the same time. It’s the story of this depressed writer Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) who’s in the middle of a divorce, and he meets someone who he really connects with… only it’s not a person, it’s the artificially intelligent voice in his computer (Scarlett Johansson). Yeah, he thinks it’s weird at first too, but it just happens. You can’t argue with your heart I guess.

Spending his life with his operating system has its share of challenges. He has to carry a little camera around for her to see the world. It’s awkward introducing her to people. They can’t hold hands or take a picture together and when they get it on it’s basically phone sex. They’re dealing with alot of handicaps here.

But also there’s a sort of inequality between them that makes it an odd relationship. He never holds it over her that she’s a product he purchased, and she never holds it over him that she can do many things that to him would be super powers. She can instantly read a book or find some piece of information she needs. She has constant access to all of his files and emails. This is not addressed in the movie, but surely this relationship removes all possibility of porn access, unless he has some magazines stashed in a closet somewhere. And also how are you gonna keep her away from your credit cards, am I right fellas, girls go to the bathroom in groups.

She’s way smarter than he could ever be, and not human, leading to some Dr. Manhattan in WATCHMEN style relationship faux pas. But she’s also vulnerable. As she grows she becomes more and more troubled about not having a body. So it’s not like she thinks she’s a superior life form.

mp_herIt’s hard for him to tell people his girlfriend is a computer, but less so as this type of thing becomes more common and accepted. It’s technically science fiction because of the artificial intelligence, but most of the technology in the movie is just different from what we have, not necessarily more advanced. People use one cordless earphone instead of earbuds, and they listen to their texts read by a computer instead of reading them themselves, this way it’s more cinematic.

But at its heart it’s very close to the world we live in. It’s the only movie I’ve seen where alot of the background extras are talking to or staring at a device as they walk by. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration, I think it’s funny because it’s true and not usually acknowledged in entertainment. On my bus as I write this I can see 7 people around me, 5 of them are looking at their phones. That’s modern life, and not just during commutes. I see people looking at their phones during weddings. HER gives modern society a little extra satirical kick by including various services and games that the characters use to simulate normal human interactions like parenting or letter writing. It comes across so matter of factly that you could miss how sad it is that someone would need that.

It’s an accurate portrait of the ridiculous disconnectedness of modern civilization, but it doesn’t feel judgmental about it. And believe me, I wouldn’t mind if it did, because I feel the way about smart phones that bumper stickers on hippie vans used to feel about television. But the movie isn’t angry at people for being like this, it’s sympathetic toward them, hoping they’ll find what they need to be happy. Theodore has more of a chance of finding that in his phone than real people do, because Samantha can think and feel. You could make a legitimate argument for them being in actual love. The movie treats it as a real relationship, and it wouldn’t take long to rewrite it as a normal love story between humans. I guess that’s why it’s so effective. Sometimes I found myself reaching past the levels of absurdity and getting wrapped up in the emotions, wanting them to work it out.

Do you guys think it would be cool if he credited his movies as “A Spike Jonze Jzoint?” I don’t know. Maybe it wouldn’t be that cool. Just an idea. Anyway, what he does consistently in his jzoints is take completely absurd ideas and treat them seriously. “A guy falls in love with his computer” is not as crazy as “there is a room you can go in that transports your consciousness into the actor John Malkovich” in my opinion, but it could be a silly comedy and that’s not what this is. He respects the idea and wants to show us the world where it could happen. And his actors take that mission seriously too.

Phoenix is just right, something that’s gonna be overlooked after the more hot-rodding role as Popeye in THE MASTER. He seems like he’s probly just being himself: thoughtful, sincere, sentimental but often distant, prone to corny humor, having a dorky laugh. And he seems convincingly smitten with this unseen person he’s with. Partial credit should go to Samantha Morton, who was on set with him and originally was going to be the voice. But Johansson gives a real performance too. It doesn’t sound like a celebrity voiceover, it sounds like a phone conversation between new lovers.

Rooney Mara has a small but important part as Theodore’s wife who he’s trying to finalize the divorce with. It’s another angry-at-a-man role but, like in her scene in THE SOCIAL NETWORK, I sided with her. She was right.

My friends, I want to spare you any further gushing about Amy Adams. I thought she would be just a frizzy-haired supporting player in this one, turns out she’s a very substantial character, Theodore’s closest real life friend Amy. Turns out that dressed as a casual artist type she rings my bell even more than in the ’70s dresses. I’m sorry. More importantly she gives an arguably even better performance than in AMERICAN HUSTLE, though less showy, because no accent.

Her part works on two levels I think. It’s cool and true-to-life to have a male and female who are good friends but don’t want to be together, just aren’t gonna fall in love, they don’t see each other that way. But also it’s kind of a funny joke because it sure seems like they would make a great couple. They light up when they see each other, they make each other laugh, they respect and support each other’s artistic endeavors, they comfort each other in times of emotional pain, they go through similar things, including painful break ups. And instead of falling in love with each other they talk to their computers. It seems like a no-brainer for them to get together, but who knows, maybe if they tried it again some weird unexpected thing would come up like what derailed the seemingly perfect date Theodore was having with Olivia Wilde. Chemistry is complicated.

That’s a pretty funny scene. He’s on this blind date, he thinks she’s really hot, she’s all over him, and he tells her a long story about what happened to him in a video game. By the way she reacts it doesn’t seem like a joke about him being terrible at conversation. This is a normal thing to talk about in this world. In a world like this most of your stories are gonna be from simulations.

And it must’ve been on purpose that his date is with an actress who played a sexy computer program in TRON LEGACY, right?

It’s a beautiful looking movie, shot not by Jonze’s usual guy, but by Hoyte Van Hoytema, who did LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. It must’ve been weird for Phoenix to do so many scenes walking around by himself pretending to be on a date, to cut into montages. It takes place in L.A. but they shot some of it in Shanghai for a weird futuristic mix of locations. There are no flying cars, but all the men seem to wear high-waisted pants.

From the crazy premise you figure it could be a Charlie Kaufman script, but this is the first one Jonze wrote for himself. Maybe that’s why it’s more optimistic than BEING JOHN MALKOVICH or ADAPTATION. You also gotta figure it’s very personal to Jonze. For me the most emotional scene involved an apology to his ex-wife, also a writer. And you can’t help but wonder how much this movie is an apology to his own ex-wife. I don’t think you would write a scene like that if it was total fiction, you’d be too worried your ex would think it was talking to her. And it has a palpable sense of sadness over this divorce, the feeling that it needs to happen mixed with nostalgia for what they used to have.

Even if it’s not supposed to be some kind of confessional, it kind of works as one for the viewer. You watch it and you think yeah, I can be selfish like that sometimes. Yeah, I get too wrapped up in electronics sometimes, I gotta talk to more people. Yeah, I didn’t really get it back then, now I understand why she reacted that way.

Man, HER is a great movie. Original, funny, sad, sweet, true. I got no problem with Jonze taking forever to make his movies if they’re gonna keep turning out this good.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 16th, 2014 at 7:55 pm and is filed under Reviews, Romance. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

27 Responses to “Her”

  1. Great review of a great movie Vern. I really really like your point about the people on your bus. It’s not just that we’re obsessed with technology as a society, but that we’re almost in a relationship with it. Most negative reviews I’ve read so far have focused on not being able to identify with Phoenix’ character (and describing the OS as a manic pixie dream girl, but I just really don’t get that argument), but it’s such a small step from being alone at a party and looking at your smartphone to seeing it as a replacement for an actual person. I was really surprised how great I thought this was, because the concept just seemed off-putting and the ads didn’t grab me. Hope it’ll get at least the best screenplay Oscar.

  2. I haven’t seen this yet but I really want to, from what I’ve seen in the trailers and still this seems like an eerily believable depiction of the future

    and shit, the idea of a guy literally falling in love with his computer in the future? I can believe that so easily it scares me a little

  3. This is like WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE; he took something that could have easily been lightweight and disposable and injected it with way more thought and feeling than you’d expect. I’m havng real trouble finding someone to see this with, though. Everyone I’ve described it to thinks it’s a goofy comedy, and it’s easy to see why. I think it will have to be just me and my smartphone seeing this (although my smartphone will be switched off during the movie, as god intended).

    Actually, does he ever take his girlfriend to the movies? And if so, does he get arrested for film piracy?

  4. It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and Nokia needs to hold a bake sale to build a Lumia 928.

  5. I originally didn’t want to see this but am going to based on this review.

    Anyone remember this gem?:


  6. I think the main thing that’s sort of holding me back from wanting to see this is Black Mirror. There was an episode of Black Mirror based around a similar concept (it was an AI programmed to imitate a woman’s dead boyfriend), and now my instinctive reaction to seeing somebody fall in love with a computer program is ABSOLUTE FUCKING TERROR.

  7. I’ve loved everything Jonze has done, from MALKOVICH to that heartbreaking documentary he did on erstwhile Pharcyde rapper Fatlip, yet I’ve been trying for weeks to force myself to be interested in this concept. So thanks, Vern, for cutting through all the awards-season hyperbole that turns me off so handily and just explaining what’s funny and entertaining about the movie without trying to convince me that we’re dealing with a masterpiece here, especially when I didn’t see last year’s unmissable masterpieces yet and life has seemed to go on unabated. I guess I kind of hate masterpieces, but I like good movies sometimes. Color me officially interested, at last.

  8. I’m with Mr Majestyk, I’m way more interested in seeing this after Vern wrote some words on it. Plus, a friend said it was a sort of answer to Lost in Translation and, despite not loving Lost in Translation, it makes me a lot more interested in seeing Her.

  9. Yeah, you guys need to rush out, this thing is not doing great business right now and you might not be able to see it much longer.

    Vern’s review is spot-on. This movie is hilarious without being a joke, profound without being a drag, sexy without being gratuitous. It takes the ridiculous sci-fi concept and shows us why it’s not so ridiculous. It’s WONDERFULLY entertaining and warm as well, I have NO IDEA why the dreaded Cinemascore audiences are rating this a B-.

    Maybe older audiences aren’t jibing with it… the third act has a lot of emotional stuff, but at the Academy screening I attended, several older audience members where laughing inappropriately, as if it was a joke that Theodore was being so hurt about the continuing developments of their relationship.

    I think Vern hints at this in the review, but yes, I think the film is meant to be wistful and romantic while basically acknowledging that Theodore has some issues. Which is interesting… he’s very clearly a nice, sensitive guy, and you immediately like him and symphatize with his depression (this movie, among other things, NAILS the feeling of being depressed despite having a solid support system around you). But he doesn’t want a girlfriend, he wants a genie in a bottle… the movie emphasizes that he just wants a convenient presence to flatter him and make HIM feel better, with no accompanying responsibilities. The fact that it does this so sweetly (he even gets Amy Adams as the cutest best friend ever) is sort of a miracle. It’s easily my favorite of the Best Picture nominees.

  10. It’s a testament to the level of skill Spike Jonze possesses that he made a personal breakup movie that is mostly dialogue and close ups of Joaquin Phoenix manages to keep momentum without being flashy in the least. That’s impressive.

  11. See it as soon as you can. This may be the best movie of 2013, possibly the best of Jonze’s career. It’s hard to force yourself to go watch it because it seems like the concept shouldn’t work.
    What you don’t realize is that
    A. this is one of the most believable depictions of the near future that’s ever been made (While also avoiding all the grey depressing sci-fi dystopia bullshit we get all the time now, this move is gorgeous)
    B. it’s one of the most true-to-life explorations of relationships that’s ever been done
    C. there’s WAY more to the movie than just the cell-phone relationship. This may be career best work for Olivia Wilde and Amy Adams, who are both great here. Rooney Mara gets an awesome scene too.

    Touching, hilarious, melancholy. It really is an amazing piece of work.

  12. Her is my favorite movie of 2013. So ridiculously good.

    And is it “Her” or “her?”

    Great review, Vern.

  13. Boy, did the trailers make this one look insufferable. But don’t be fooled, it’s actually a very complex and surprisingly hilarious little sci-fi movie. Every bit in line with Jonze’s best stuff.

    One question for the folks who HAVE seen it: What the fuck is up with the mustachio’d receptionist at Phoenix’s office? He seems weird and awkward, almost like he’s hitting on him, he gives him that weird line about being partly a woman inside. But then at the end, they’re friends, it even sort of seems like they’ve been friends for a long time. What are we supposed to make of that?

  14. The Original... Paul

    January 17th, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    All coming out this month in the UK:

    – Scorsese’s “Wolf of Wall Street”.
    – Jonze’s “Her”.
    – Coen Brothers’ “Llewyn Davis”.

    It’s gonna be a really, really, really good month for movies I think.

  15. @Mr. Subtlety, that’s Chris Pratt, soon to dominate Hollywood as the star of Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World! I took that part as face value, that Theodore as a loving support system of friends and associates, and Pratt even kind of wishes he were like Theodore… Theodore becomes so appealing because of Samantha that no one comments when, out of the blue, Pratt grows the exact same mustache and wears the same clothes. I’d love to hear a deeper reading, though. The comment about being “half-woman” throws me off, certainly.

  16. I loved this version of the future where artificial intelligence doesn’t want to go Skynet on our asses once it gets to know us. Dystopias have been run into the ground in recent years, so I found Her very refreshing, moving, and funny. Definitely my favorite film from 2013, which I am surprised to say given my love for Gravity and 12 Years a Slave.

  17. So I saw it last night. I got there late, completely packed (this was in Manhattan, a movie’s popularity there is not indicative of movie’s national performance), we had to see it in corner front seats (so everyone on screen develops “megachin” perspective problems, but, due to the nature of this particular movie, wasn’t really a problem).


    To me, it played like a very subtle horror movie. The impersonality of it all: the nature of his job, the Shanghai cityscapes, that surrogate scene which SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER later revelations show OS1 was cheating on 2 people… with each other, how the most personal details of someone’s life can be played like that: it’s relationship horror.

    And I loved the ending, how SPOIlER SPOIlER SPOILER the OS’s just evolved away from us pathetic puny humans, and left everyone without our significant other. Like a romcom version of “The Terminator”.

    And WTF was with the high waisted pants? In fact, the whole wardrobe had a creepy basement dwelling pervert comfortable clothes aesthetic. Which I guess is the point now that I articulate it.

  18. Great flick. I really do wonder where the idea for this came from out of Jonze. And, geez, he even cast someone who looks like Sophia Coppola as the ex!

    Props to him for getting these performances out of the main cast, too. They’re all pros, of course, but I was impressed… Especially with ScarJo.

    Eddie: Having seen that BLACK MIRROR episode that’s putting you off, I would recommend you see this anyway. They have similar set ups but HER is much more forgiving to the technology (and, while we’re at it, humans).

    Subtlety: My guess is that there was some sort of gender bending motif that ended up mostly cut from the movie. You have that strange “half-woman” speech, the fact that the OSes have neutral names like Sam and Alex, and that they are simultaneously involved with hundreds, and I don’t know. Feels like a dropped plot.

  19. I liked this line from another review: “There’s a moment where Theodore, afraid that someone he loves has gone missing, runs through the city streets and falls, and all the citizenry wrapped up in their technological cocoons stop to help him, asking him if he’s okay. It’s a prime moment for satire, for Jonze to pound home the message that we’re separating ourselves from one another–but instead, he goes in the opposite direction ” -walter chaw

    I don’t think the movie is just out to say “look at what a fucked up world we’re heading towards” and I appreciate that about the movie. It’s a little of both.

    I don’t see how calling Samantha a MPDG is a negative per se insofar as Rooney’s character’s criticisms hold water: she sort of is an idealized persona that relieves Ted of having to challenge himself. At least, it can be construed that way.

    I found Vern’s observation of the irony that he and his neighbor both connect with their computers instead of one another to be astute. The movie is neither out to say “fucked up world” or “look at how great technology is”; rather it’s just interested in exploring all the ideas that this concept awakens, and finds it to be a fruitful vehicle to say thoughtful shit about relationships and humanity.

    Best scene for me was the surrogate. How dehumanizing. She’s literally there to be a shell, whose body plays host to another being. Scary stuff.

    The airplane statue doing a nosedive is a handy symbol for a subversive movie about technology.

    I did find Samantha to be pretty pollyannish. I find it easier to swallow Scarlett Johansson as her character in Don Jon than in this movie (eg as a repugnant bitch). I think it’s just subjectivity, I mean I can’t fault her delivery on any level: it’s a studied, precise performance. But I couldn’t fall in love with her through Ted’s eyes like I wanted to. I was interested to see how things would develop between them and what sort of sci-fi conceits the story would invoke, but I wasn’t emotionally invested in their relationship.

  20. Fun fact:

    When Spike’s ex’, Sofia Coppola made a film about her feelings of alienation in the time leading up to their divorce, her alter ego was portrayed by Scarlett Johansson.

    What a remarkable coincidence!

  21. Ben (the other one)

    January 20th, 2014 at 2:58 am

    Great review, great movie. You said it all, really. But two other thoughts:

    1. It was interesting that the movie portrayed it as socially acceptable to date an OS. Both the Amy Adams and Chris Pratt characters accepted it without judging. Amy Adams mentioned that she knew someone else who was dating an OS. I didn’t expect that going in. I thought we’d see a lot of scenes where people would think “this guy is crazy,” or where he’d have to go to great lengths to keep the relationship a secret. But I liked how the movie just pushed all that kind of bullshit aside and had people react honestly and realistically to the Samantha character and the relationship.

    2. The movie had much more of a sci-fi flavor to it than I expected. I mean that both in terms of the great production design and the themes. It looked fantastic. The technology it displayed seemed credible but definitely imaginary by today’s standards. And thematically, Samantha’s evolution into true consciousness and then super-consciousness was classic sci-fi, just a little more down to earth. The computer-becomes-self-aware story has been told a lot. But usually it plays out with a Skynet type of persona building terminators and taking over the world. This was pretty original having the OS’s be decent “people” who don’t want to take over the world, but who still undergo a thought-provoking transformation into sentience.

  22. Finally saw this movie, and yes, it was just me and my smart phone in the end. This is REAL science fiction, people. I know you might be confused because there aren’t any lasers or robots or Ewoks, but this is what proper sci-fi is all about: taking a technological conceit, extrapolating it, and exploring it’s impact on society. This movie does that brilliantly, and a lot of it happens in the margins. It just crops up naturally in conversation, there’s no info-dump news broadcasts.

    They could have really fucked this up if they decided that they wanted to make some money out of this thing. There’s a thousand details they could have over-explained or played for laughs. When Samantha said “it’s not like I’m going to stalk you”, I could just imagine the shitty movie they could make out of that idea, but Jonze seems more interested in letting this relationship play out organically (not a pun). There’s not a trace of judgement in this thing.

    It’s truly amazing how serious Jonze takes it. Even when Theodore and Samantha crack jokes they aren’t that funny. It’s like he’s daring you to laugh. I can see how the concept might too silly and abstract for some people (there were some older couples at my screening that were laughing at odd moments) but I bought into it one hundred percent. I left this movie emotionally drained, which is really rare for me. I got way more invested in this movie than if it had been about an ordinary relationship, so much so that it’s actually got me questioning myself a little bit. I loved it.

  23. Well this was finally grudgingly put into mainstream cinemas over here in the UK, maybe to placate those of us who aren’t interested in the three-hundredth animated straight-to-DVD kids’ movie that somehow got released in theatres over here despite receiving multiple critical bashings over in the US. (That’s pretty much all we’ve had for 2013, in fact.) So I went to see it, and by golly, this may be the first genuine masterpiece I’ve seen in the cinema since “Into the Abyss”. It’s that damn good.

    The style and cinematography reminded me of “Lost in Translation” and “Holy Motors”; and no matter what you think of “Lost in Translation”‘s story or characters, it about as perfect a demonstration of cinema as a visual art form as you’re ever likely to find. “Holy Motors”, again, was a stunningly beautifully-shot film.

    Another thing that “Her” does that I don’t think has been pointed out anywhere else is, like “Lost in Translation”, to make the setting a “character”. Literally so in many cases – the world of “Her” is one in which just about anything can be sentient. The world of this film is so perfectly realised. It’s a world where your computer can turn on your stereo, give you mood lighting or make you a cup of coffee. Nobody feels the need to explain this in exposition by the way – it’s just a fact of life in this world.

    But it goes beyond that: the city especially feels like a living, breathing thing. Almost the only motionless stuff in it is relics of a bygone age – the aeroplane statue for example. Everything in the film is vibrant and colourful. Even the walls can talk (literally in some cases).

    I totally agree with Crustacean on this:

    “There’s a thousand details they could have over-explained or played for laughs. When Samantha said “it’s not like I’m going to stalk you”, I could just imagine the shitty movie they could make out of that idea, but Jonze seems more interested in letting this relationship play out organically (not a pun). There’s not a trace of judgement in this thing.”

    That nails it, I think, and explains just why this film is so damn good. Like last year’s “Warm Bodies” (which I really liked but which is nowhere close to being as good as “Her”), it takes its premise and absolutely commits to it.

    Oh, and Phoenix’s performance is pretty damn phenomenal.

    That’s all.

  24. I had some time to kill yesterday, and I discovered that this was still playing at the art theater near my place. And since this was the only Best Picture nominee besides GRAVITY I had the slightest interest in, I decided to go check it out before it took home its inevitable consolation prize/Best Original Screenplay statue.

    It was a very good movie. The production design was well thought out and visually stimulating, ensuring that, even when it’s just another shot of Joaquin Phoenix talking to himself, there’s always something neat to look at besides the notch in his mustache. The performances were all excellent, and Vern will be happy to know that Amy Adams is finally starting to grow on me. (Her charm eludes me as Strong Woman Of This Modern Age Of Ours or Saccharine Song-Singing Rainbow Princess, but she’s cute and likable as Mousy Best Friend.) And once again, it was admirable that Jonze stayed on target and made exactly the kind of movie he wanted. It’s a singular work that views sci-fi subject matter from a uniquely humanistic perspective. It takes a real artist to pull off something like this.

    But ultimately it’s just too much of a bummer to embrace. This movie depressed the shit out of me. It wasn’t like it was a tearjerker or anything. I didn’t even really care that much about the central relationship. I just felt bad for the dude for needing to have it in the first place. No matter how successful or talented you are, how much validation you get from your friends and colleagues, no matter how many beautiful women throw themselves at you, you’re still a self-absorbed baby who’ll die lonely and unfulfilled, staring into a succession of screens to try to find some new stimulus to plug the hole in your heart.

    This was not a lesson I particularly needed reiterated right now. This is a lesson I would do well to forget, in fact, and to remember some inspiring lies that might provide some hope in this disassociated fugue we call modern life.

    Afterward, I walked around in the cold for an hour, listening to the DRIVE soundtrack, looking at all the bright lights and shiny screens on all the buildings, not thinking about much, just feeling already swallowed up in the film’s subtle, tastefully branded technological dystopia. There were people everywhere, all around me. I didn’t say a single word to them. I took out the shiny screen I keep in my pocket and called my own female BFF/ex-girlfriend. We talked through tiny microphones and faraway satellites. Nothing was solved. I walked some more. I went home alone.

    This is probably a great movie. I hope I never see it or think about it ever again.

  25. I can’t say I disagree with your sentiments Mr. M but I imagine I will probably watch it again. Either out of emotional masochism or admiration for the beautiful digital photography Jonze employed here. I was actually expecting something a little more bleak from this, and maybe it’s just that the central plot of co-dependence on artificial intelligence is dark enough.

    I think the part where things get awkward during the double date, where Samantha basically lays it out that she’ll still be here when we’re long dead and gone is a mirror of how Jonze treats the story. She doesn’t hold that over them as a point of superiority, and he doesn’t treat the characters with a more critical view towards someone who maintains such an otherwise troubling relationship. That, and maybe the scene with the child for it’s own reasons, is the film in microcosm.

  26. Mr M, dude, that’s the best comment/story of yours I’ve read. I was moved. I feel like fucking crying…(but I won’t. I’m a man.)

    [quick sniffle, wipes eyes, goes back to man cave.]

  27. The Original... Paul

    August 7th, 2014 at 12:47 am

    Mr M – I can’t say I don’t understand where you’re coming from. At its core, “Her” is a movie about a man who doesn’t have the character or vision to truly comprehend the changes in Samantha, or just how limitless her world can become in comparison to his. In other words, we’re watching events play out from the point of view of the “blind man” of the film. Most of her changes, in fact, he sees as a negative thing. The great irony of the film is that Phoenix’s character arc is about accepting Samantha as “human”, even as she’s becoming less and less so.

    I have to wonder, now that you’ve said that, whether or not it would’ve been any different with a protagonist who was better equipped to comprehend, support, and sympathise with the changes Samatha goes through. I think it would’ve made for a happier film. Whether it would’ve been a less interesting one as well, though, I don’t know.

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