Theodore Twombly (Phoenix) leads a pretty ordinary life. He spends his days at work, where he is known as Letter Writer #612. He is employed by a company known as HandwrittenLetters.com. His job is to write letters for people that either can’t or don’t want to. The rest of his day is spent engrossed in the technology that surrounds him. Currently unattached he “meets” like minded people for…umm…chatting purposes. Then one day he meets Samantha (the sultry voice of Johannson), who voices his new operating system. And before you know it, it’s love at first sound.
Spike Jonze has always amazed me as a filmmaker. His brilliant first feature, “Being John Malkovich,” earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Director. His adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” not only took you into the fantastic worlds of your childhood, it made you wish you were there as an adult. With “Her” he establishes himself as the quirkiest, yet most talented, director to come along since Tim Burton unleashed Pee Wee Herman on the world almost three decades ago! Here he has taken an almost laughable premise and given it a heart.
The film, also written by Jonze, also succeeds thanks to the talented cast. Joaquin Phoenix is pitch perfect here. Best known for playing more serious, and even surly, characters in films like “Gladiator,” “Walk the Line” and “The Master” (and earning Oscar nominations for all three films) here he shows a softer side bordering on sweetness. Seriously, I think this is the first time I can remember seeing Phoenix smile on camera since “Parenthood.” Just as sweet (and seductive) is Johannson, who delivers an amazing and award worthy performance as the voice of Theodore’s dreams. The supporting cast, including Amy Adams, Chris Pratt and Rooney Mara do solid work as well, but the film works best when it’s just Theodore and Samantha alone and center stage. If I had a cell phone company I would hire her immediately. Move over, Siri…Samantha is here!