With only a hint of a futuristic setting, Spike Jonze takes a remarkably honest look at human emotions as a man and his computer's intelligent operating system fall madly in love with each other. Utterly grounded in believable characters and situations, this is a boldly inventive exploration of how we connect with each other. It's also one of the most involving, witty and evocative movies of the year.
It's set just a few years into the future, when we've essentially done away with keyboards and talk to our phones and computers. So Theodore (Phoenix) works in a company that writes letters for people who want a more tactile way of communicating. While trying not to let his recent divorce from Caroline (Mara) influence his work, his friends (Adams and Letscher) set him up on a blind date with a sexy woman (Wilde). But he's not quite ready to move on until he begins opening up to his new interactive operative system, which calls herself Samantha (voiced by Johansson). And she has such an open-hearted personality that Theodore can't help but fall for her.
The film has a breezy, fable-like tone that allows heavy themes to emerge without weighing us down. Indeed, the central idea is that relationships are difficult because we can't help but evolve individually, which sometimes means drifting apart. Obviously, this has huge ramifications when your partner is a limitless computer mind that will never stop expanding. But Theodore doesn't want to think about this; he is frightened by the idea that Samantha is changing. Yes, despite the vaguely surreal premise, the film is packed with things we readily identify with.
And the performances are subtle and textured in ways that continually bring out strongly engaging insight. Jonze is such a smart, observant filmmaker that he's able to keep us smiling while subtly bringing out truths that are essentially heartbreaking. This is a gorgeous movie that catches our imagination from the start and never lets go, reminding us of feelings we never admit to ourselves. And in Theodore and Samantha's tricky, twisty relationship, we pointedly remember that life is brief, so we really need to let ourselves experience as much joy as possible.
Run time: 126 mins
In Theaters: Friday 10th January 2014
Box Office USA: $25.6M
Box Office Worldwide: $47.4M
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production compaines: Annapurna Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Fresh: 216 Rotten: 13
IMDB: 8.1 / 10
Director: Spike Jonze
Producer: Megan Ellison, Vincent Landay
Screenwriter: Spike Jonze
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore, Scarlett Johansson as Samantha (voice), Rooney Mara as Catherine, Amy Adams as Amy, Olivia Wilde as Blind Date, Chris Pratt as Paul, Portia Doubleday as Isabella, Sam Jaeger as Dr. Johnson, Kelly Sarah as Bikini Beach Babe, Spike Jonze as Alien Child, Bill Hader as Chat Room Friend #2, Kristen Wiig as Sexy Kitten, Brian Cox as Alan Watts (voice)
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