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Computer Love

The National Board of Review just named “Her” the best movie of the year, and it hasn’t even opened yet. If you’re wondering why, check out the trailer. That provides a hint of how director Spike Jonze turned what sounds like a satirical premise — a man in love with his computer-operating system — into a trippy romantic comedy with unexpected heart and soul. Joaquin Phoenix stars as Theodore Twombly, who earns his living by writing billets-doux for an online service called BeautifulHandwrittenLetters.com, and Scarlett Johansson is the sultry voice of his computer (it doesn’t hurt that we know what she looks like). Theodore is going through a tough breakup with his wife (Rooney Mara), who sums up their situation over divorce papers: “He couldn’t deal with me, he tried to put me on Prozac and now he’s in love with his laptop.” In fact, there’s more to it than that. Jonze, who also wrote the screenplay, has cited Woody Allen’s “Crimes and Misdemeanors” as a key inspiration. With “Her,” which hits theaters on December 18, he sets out to be not just funny, but also subtle and profound. — John Birmingham

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