Her - reviews of Spike Jonze's rom-com for the digital age
Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson star in a brilliantly silly tale of love in a digital world
What you need to know
Reviewers are calling Spike Jonze's romantic comedy Her, opening in UK cinemas today, "brilliant", "silly" and "deeply sincere". The film, written and directed by Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation), stars Joaquin Phoenix and the voice of Scarlett Johansson.
The story centres on Theodore (Phoenix), a lonely, divorced professional letter-writer, who falls in love with an intelligent computer operating system called Samantha (voiced by Johansson). As the relationship develops, Theodore finds that loving a digital entity can be just as challenging as loving a person.
What the critics like
"Jonze has made a sweet, smart, silly, serious film for our times, only set in the future," says Ian Nathan in Empire. For all its whimsy, Her provides a health-check on our digital era where human contact has been relocated to social media. It's Jonze's most significant film to date.
"At once a brilliant conceptual gag and a deeply sincere romance, Her is the unlikely yet completely plausible love story about a man... and an operating system," says Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. Johansson's voice is surprisingly expressive, and Phoenix excels at exquisite isolation in a movie you want to reach out and caress.
A concept like Her can be expressed satirically or sincerely and "Jonze plumps wisely for the second option", says Ryan Gilbey in the New Statesman. It's an incisive, even uplifting account of how human beings forge emotional connections in the most unpromising climates – and it's very 21st century.
What they don't like
This is "such a gentle satire that it can feel like a sluggish couple of hours", says Siobhan Synnot in The Scotsman. In the end, Her is a beautifully shot provocation that is more interesting as a conversation on the way home than as an experience in the cinema. ·