In the Dark

Pregnant With Meaning

Produced by Annapurna Pictures
Written and directed by Spike Jonze
Distributed by Warner Brothers

Inside Llewyn Davis
Produced by StudioCanal and Anton Capital Entertainment
Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
Distributed by CBS Films


Her is directed by Spike Jonze, the inscrutable nom de cinema Adam Spiegel has adopted for himself.  Set in the near future, the film uses one of science fiction’s hallowed, not to say hoary, premises in order to investigate the nature of romantic relationships: What happens when humans find themselves interacting with an artificial intelligence equipped with human feelings?  As such, the film has all the tropes of a Twilight Zone episode inflated by a movie-sized budget of $25 million.  We’re asked to believe that a lonely office drudge comically named Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with the talking, emoting operating system he downloads onto his computer and mobile device.  This system has been programmed to address his psychological needs, principally his agony over having been dumped by his wife.

Despite its familiar antecedents, including a passing suggestion of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the story works because Jonze has rung some...

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