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Well, with the two now engaged, you'll soon be hearing a lot more.While the tabloids would have you believe he's little more than the well off squeeze of one of the world's most beautiful women, there's a lot more to the man who co-founded temporary picture sharing service Snapchat.1.This story first appeared in the October 15, 2013 issue of Variety. (The actual “handwriting” is generated by computer, a lovely metaphor for our lingering analog affections in the digital era). But then, Samantha is no ordinary OS: It has a voice (Scarlett Johansson, who replaced Samantha Morton during post-production), an attitude, and a curiosity that seems, well, almost human. Whereas the very notion of a man falling in love with a machine would have once seemed the stuff of high fantasy or farce, in “Her” it feels like just the slightest exaggeration of how we live now, in a blur of the real and virtual — “dating” online, texting instead of talking, changing our “status” with the click of a mouse.
But what begins like an arrested adolescent dream soon blossoms into Jonze’s richest and most emotionally mature work to date, burrowing deep into the give and take of relationships, the dawning of middle-aged ennui, and that eternal dilemma shared by both man and machine: the struggle to know one’s own true self.He met his Snapchat co-founders at a frat party Like many tech start-ups from near the Silicon Valley area, Snapchat has its roots in a bunch of college kids.Unlike many rivals, however, Evan Spiegel didn't form the foundations of the Snapchat team at an electronics club or math department meet, but a frat party.Indeed, in Jonze’s radical retelling of the “Pinocchio” story (by way of 1984’s techno-romance “Electric Dreams,”), Samantha’s great existential crisis isn’t that she yearns to be a real, flesh-and-blood human.Rather, it’s her dawning realization that humanity may only be one station on a greater and more fulfilling journey through the cosmos — Kubrick’s Star Child come of age at last.
The courtship scenes between Theodore and Samantha (including a freewheeling day trip to Venice Beach) are among the movie’s most disarming, with Phoenix disappearing as deeply under the skin of Jonze’s wounded, sensitive alter-ego as he did the roiling caged beast of “The Master.” (Shy of Daniel Day-Lewis, he may be the most chameleonic actor in movies today.) But it’s Johansson who pulls off the trickiest feat: She creates a complex, full-bodied character without any body at all.