Her, the latest from Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich) features Joaquin Phoenix at his most nebbishy. Playing a recently heartbroken man who develops an intimate relationship with his very human computer operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson, ironically giving her most compassionate performance). While the premise seems absurd, especially once Phoenix's protagonist starts going on vacations and double dates with his disembodied significant other, you realize, especially in this age where smartphones and tablets often serve as our appendages, how not-so-implausible this love story is.
Nevertheless, this retro-futuristic romance (set in a world where people dress like colorful Quakers) has not only a lyrical sharpness but also the most sincere of faces. In this story of a man who learns more about life—and about himself—every time he falls in and out of love, we see that Jonze is doing the same damn thing every time he makes a great movie.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Big small films."