Her (2013) written and directed by Spike Jonze
In a not-too-distant future, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) works as a letter writer for couples. He has a cubicle in a corporate office and never sees the people to and for whom he is writing. He knows enough about them to use lots of personal details in the letters. His personal life is a shambles. He's getting divorced from his childhood sweetheart Catherine (Rooney Mara) but doesn't have the nerve to sign the papers. His friendly neighbors Amy (Amy Adams) and Charles (Matt Letscher) try to hang out with him and set him up on dates, but Theodore just isn't the fun guy that he used to be. Desperate for a relationship, he downloads a new operating system, OS1, that is advertised as "not just an operating system, it's a consciousness." After a few set-up questions, the OS1 starts talking (with the voice of Scarlett Johansson) and names itself Samantha. His relationship with Samantha grows more complicated and more romantic as the movie progresses.
Like most Spike Jonze films (Adaptation. and Being John Malkovich, for example), this is highly imaginative and unpredictable. Theodore struggles to make sense of his life and his growing affection for Samantha. He gets a mixture of reactions. A coworker is happy for him, his wife is scornful. The film manages to be non-judgmental about the situation, though it is hard not to draw the conclusion that modern attitudes toward sex are profoundly confused. Theodore tries a lot of things, hardly any of which work out well for him. His path of self-discovery is slow and meandering, ultimately putting him in the one predictable ending for his character. The trip is fascinating and heart-breaking, though the people in this movie need some breaking in order to find healing.
The movie is challenging and intriguing. Also, it is not for the under 18 crowd with some fairly explicit sexual dialogue and scenes.
The movie is discussed on A Good Story is Hard To Find Podcast #227. They also discuss Ex Machina, another near-future AI story, on Podcast #228. I reviewed it here. I am way behind in my podcast listening!
Recommended for people who like challenging, thinky films.