starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Scarlett Johansson
written and directed by Spike Jonze
by Walter Chaw Two moments early on in Spike Jonze's Her. The first when our hero, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), initiates his new operating system, Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), and is asked to characterize his relationship with his mother; the second when, in flashback, Theodore and his ex, Catherine (Rooney Mara), pretend to choke each other. They're waypoints Jonze establishes for his piece: in one direction, there's Blade Runner and its questions of proximate humanity; in the other, there's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and its mad love. Jonze establishes, too, that this will be a work of science-fiction owing its parentage to the best sources, that its premise will be fantastic but grounded in characters and their place in the world. Of all the compliments I can think to pay this film, the best is that Her is at least the equal of its waypoints. More, when its solution recalls the metaphysical coda to the great The Incredible Shrinking Man, it's the equal of that as well.