Film review of clever & engrossing “her”


Her2013PosterI resisted seeing the new Spike Jonze film “her” because I guess I was leary of the concept: the sci-fi story of a lonely single guy played by Joaquin Phoenix falling for his computer system (with a woman’s voice of Scarlett Johansson).

It’s now playing at the Crossroads Festival Grand Cinema discount theatre (4811 E. Grant Rd. in Tucson), which is  sadly closing for good on April 20.


The film is an amazingly well done, powerful movie about loneliness and alienation, and yet tastefully portrays a lonely, about-to-be-divorced guy with no kids,

who works at an ironic, revealing job of dictating love/friendship letters on a computer (which get printed in script onto letter paper & mailed in envelopes via snail mail) to recipients. This is a direct hint of the imagined way life could become with ever-newer technology, and the film is aptly filmed in megalopolis Los Angeles (and Shanghai) to get us into the concrete jungle world of the future. After work Theodore dejectedly walks home through a maze of lonely workers, to his high-rise one bedroom apt. where he spends the evening playing virtual, video games by himself.

Lonely Theodore then buys a new OS (Operating System) 1 who names herself Samantha, and then she becomes his secretary/companion who can anticipate his needs & wants, carries on a wide range of conversations, and is always available when he turns on his computer( even at night for cyber- sex). Most of the movie is about him conversing alone with an earpiece with this smooth-talking, programmed intelligent Samantha, even to the point of happily boasting to his few friends that he is “dating” someone.

Indeed he is dating, but not a human. The movie questions us if that matters– as long as he is happy. Note also that the film title is spelled with lower case “h” instead of the capital pronoun “Her”.

Is this our future? I think there are already humans who never turn off their computers/laptops or iphones, which lie next to them in bed at night. We do communicate mostly via email, texting, Facebook, twitter – rarely do our land line phones ring, if we own any, now in the 21st century of 2014. Is this the new reality, a new dimension of communication for us humans? Has the computer become too dominant in our lives? Can humans truly “love” their devices, like some people are already loving their robot pets?

Check for film times at The film  aptly won the 2013 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and was nominated for Best Picture as well.

See this powerful, inventive movie, reflect upon it and our future with computers, and then seek out some other real human beings to discuss it.

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Carolyn Classen
Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, a life long Democrat, was born & raised in the State of Hawaii, was a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye on Capitol Hill, and practiced law for a while. In Tucson she worked as a tribal staff attorney for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and later was the Interim Executive Director of the now defunct Domestic Violence Commission. In 2008 she became a “My Tucson” guest columnist for the Tucson Citizen newspaper, then continued blogging for for over four and a half years. Her blogsite was entitled “Carolyn’s Community” about community events and some political news, until Gannett Publishing shut down the site on January 31, 2014. She started with Blog for Arizona on Feb. 11, 2014. Part time she has been sitting as a Hearing Officer in Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts Small Claims Division since April, 2005. She is married to University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Albrecht Classen, a native of Germany. They have one son, who lives in Seattle, WA with his wife and daughter. She is also the Editor of the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition website, (since Jan. 2013).