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Her: Beautiful, quirky sci-fi romance

"Her" is a wonderfully quirky sci-fi romance film about a man who falls in love with a virtual being, and questions the nature of love as well as intimacy.

SINGAPORE: She is funny, smart and loving.

Socially-awkward professional letter-writer Theodore Twombly's (Joaquin Phoenix) new girlfriend, Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), is also an operating system Artificial Intelligence (AI) with a female personality.

She (It?) is designed to be able to adapt to her master's character, resides in a small mobile phone-like device he carries around, and speaks with him through an earpiece.

Written and directed by US filmmaker Spike Jonze, "Her" is a wonderfully quirky sci-fi romance film that traces Twombly's relationship with Samantha, as they go from being master and servant, to being friends and finally becoming lovers.

Along the way, the audience get to see Twombly go on a disastrous, yet funny blind date, engage in a rather bizarre session of phone sex, and confront his past.

"Her" is peppered with humorous scenes, but it also asks some rather profound questions about the nature of love, intimacy, as well as the relationship between humans and technology.

It is this fine balance of levity and seriousness which makes “Her” one of the most entertaining films to come along in recent years.

Phoenix also turns in an excellent performance as Twombly, carefully fleshing out his character in each scene.

However, it is Johansson who steals the show, despite never actually appearing on screen at any point in the film.

She infuses Samantha with such emotional depth and personality through her voice work that Samantha seems almost human, something which the entire film hinges upon.

Johansson’s every pause; every breath serves to bring Samantha to life, and makes it more believable that Twombly might actually prefer a virtual girlfriend to a real one.

Add brilliant supporting cast members like US actress Amy Adams, who plays Twombly’s best friend Amy, as well as Rooney Mara who plays Twombly’s ex-wife Catherine, into the mix, and the result is a film that is an absolute joy to watch.

Apart from the relatively slow pace of the 126-minute film, which may put off some cinema-goers, “Her” is a beautiful, thought-provoking movie will stay with audiences long after the credits roll.

And perhaps make them ponder what it’d be like to date their smartphones.

4.5/5 stars

“Her” is rated M18 and is now showing.

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