Ray Kurzweil in KurzweilAI:
Her, written, directed and produced by Spike Jonze, presents a nuanced love story between a man and his operating system. Although there are caveats I could (and will) mention about the details of the OS and how the lovers interact, the movie compellingly presents the core idea that a software program (an AI) can — will — be believably human and lovable. This is a breakthrough concept in cinematic futurism in the way that The Matrix presented a realistic vision that virtual reality will ultimately be as real as, well, real reality. Jonze started his feature-motion-picture career directing Being John Malkovich, which also presents a realistic vision of a future technology — one that is now close at hand: being able to experience reality through the eyes and ears of someone else. With emerging eye-mounted displays that project images onto the wearer’s retinas and also look out at the world, we will indeed soon be able to do exactly that. When we send nanobots into the brain — a circa-2030s scenario by my timeline — we will be able to do this with all of the senses, and even intercept other people’s emotional responses.
As a movie, I thought Her was very successful, with a well-crafted script, excellent directing, and outstanding performances by Joaquin Phoenix, who plays the lonely, needy and nerdy protagonist Theodore, and Scarlett Johansson, who provides the sultry and seductive voice for Samantha, the OS. As a couple, Theodore and Samantha have their differences, which, as with many romantic stories, provide a dramatic tension. The most significant difference is that he has a body and she does not. Their relationship is seen as real by some observers (for example, by Amy, another love interest of Theodore’s, played by Amy Adams), and as unreal by other observers (for example, by Theodore’s alienated and ultimately ex-wife, Catherine).