Set in an LA of some years to come, a moustachioed Phoenix is the office shlub, fragile after the break-up of his marriage. At home he downloads a new operating system on to his computer and gives it a female voice (Johansson).
Samantha is the system's name and proves the answer to his dreams, the perfect female mate. For the next hour and three quarters we are laboriously subjected to the trials and tribulations of their utterly conventional "relationship". The fact that we can't see one of them fails to make it interesting.
It's a hell of a slog to sit through. Phoenix's character is so weak-willed and lacking in backbone that one quickly tires of his dour-faced countenance – one certainly never feels any sympathy for him. How he could attract such beauties as Mara as his wife and Wilde as a blind date is baffling. The drawn out details of his "romance" with Johansson's voice – he constantly sports an earpiece so he can hear her loving tones – is so tiresome and tedious that one leaves the cinema relieved that it's all finally over. There is not one insightful word spoken between them – it's all self indulgent Californian psychobabble. After a point you just wish the two of them would shut up.
Visually though, there is some persuasive work. The LA depicted here (filmed near Shanghai) is a world of cool looking buildings with good views and arid texture – no cars in sight. It's a dislocated place that serves the story well – the SF elements are subtly modulated, never taking over from the sleep-inducing narrative. This overlong exercise in meaningless masturbation is so empty and unappealing that staying awake for its duration requires herculean effort. It's unremittingly dull. Make constructive use of your time by doing something – anything – else.
EXTRAS ★★★ Three featurettes: the making-of documentary The Untitled Rick Howard Project (24:19); Her: Love in the Modern Age (15:10); and How Do You Share Your Love With Somebody? (3:56).