HUB Movie Review: Her

Story posted April 24, 2014 in CommRadio by Sofia Westin

For some, a voice is just enough.

So this guy Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is suffering from a really bad break-up with his wife, and this carries over to his work. His work is writing heartfelt letters for those who can’t (though suffering, I would think, is quite a feeling for the heart, you know?).

Teddy decides to try out the first artificial Operating System (OS) that is programmed based on the purchaser’s responses. With a couple words, Teddy gets Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), a female OS with whom (it?) Teddy develops an unlikely relationship. What I mean by that is: they are dating.

He is dating his OS.

Why do they date? Samantha just gets Teddy (better than his wife did—oh, burn!), which isn’t all too surprising if Samantha was created based on Teddy’s personality.

(I find it amusing that Johansson, considered one of the world’s most beautiful women, only lends her voice to this movie. Sorry, boys.)

But as you know from your own experiences, technology never does what you want it to. Problems arise in this relationship, leading to doubts and loss. Inevitably, it may only help humans realize the greatness of human connections, though problems exist there too.

I think it’s funny that it’s called “Her” because the movie mainly has female leads and supporting actresses. There is more than one “her” in this man’s life. These great females include Amy Adams, Olivia Wilde and Rooney Mara.

The movie, though it’s rather weird, or as some would call it “interesting,” was loved by most who saw it. Top critics from Metacritic and RottenTomatoes gave it 90 and 93, respectively, meaning it’s pretty darn good if critics like it. The IMDb audience gave it an 8.2. 

It won the Oscar for Best Writing Original Screenplay. I mean, can you blame it? It’s about a man who falls in love with a computer! It was nominated for four other Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

On the Penn State Scale...
1—when Penn State loses a game,
2—an 8 a.m class (which are awful),
3—a canceled 8 a.m class,
4— free textbooks,
and 5—free Creamery ice cream for a whole year,

This movie is a solid 4. There are some drawbacks, and I think they just may be subjective reasons on my part. For me, I just couldn’t get over that fact that she is a piece of technology and he is a human and that they are dating.

I wasn’t able to suspend the disbelief and just go with it.

However, I do understand why it’s was nominated for so many awards. I do think it’s a beautiful movie: the acting is well done; the plot is good (though it leaves a bit of a cliffhanger); the imagery and art direction is gorgeous; and for the reason it won Best Writing Original Screenplay, it is interesting and new, albeit weird.

I also like it because it tackles human relationships and dealing with grief, doubt and hope.

What I ultimately like about this movie is that it does give some interesting insights to that of humans and their technology.

I’m going to get philosophical on this, so bear with me. Our technology today is quite personalized: we choose backgrounds, themes, lettering style, cover colors, bling-bling, and many other things to show that this piece of technology is ours.

Well, can’t you argue that “her” takes it to the next level, whereby the operating system is personalized to us?

Siri right now is the same for everyone, but what if she (or maybe “he” in the future) was our personal Siri? If it wasn’t Siri for everyone, but we had our Samantha’s or Josh’s or whatever you would call you OS. We are already so attached to our technology, especially our phones, so what if, and I say if, that attachment turned into something else as it (the tech) becomes the only thing that understands you?

Watch this movie then and learn from it. It may foretell a future problem.

Wow, that felt deep. Okay, so go now and watch the movie and enjoy it without thinking of its message or implications (unless you’re a philosophy major, then we should talk!).

Sofia Westin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism and economics. To contact her, email

Photo Courtesy: Associated Press