THEODORE Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a shy, introverted man, who is emotionally bruised by impending divorce from his sweetheart (Rooney Mara).

On the way home one day, Theodore hears about new technology that claims to be “not just an operating system - it's a consciousness”.

Intrigued, he signs up and he creates an OS with a female identity; Samantha (voiced by Johansson) is born. At first, she takes care of his day-to-day tasks but Samantha gradually coaxes Theodore out of his shell. Intimacy between Theodore and Samantha leads to phone sex. “It feels like something has changed in me... You woke me up,” coos Samantha.

It also wakes up Theodore, who surfs the crashing waves of love while trying to keep secret the identity of his new lover from friends including Amy (Amy Adams).

Her is a haunting and heart-breaking romance, which takes our fascination with technology as a means to forge personal relationships to the next level.

Writer-director Spike Jonze wears his heart on his sleeve from the beguiling opening frames and treats his central pairing across the real and digital realms with tenderness.

Phoenix is extraordinary, performing in close-up without any other human presence for long periods. Aching emotions are captured in every wrinkle and contour of his face, and he visibly lights up as the romance with Samantha becomes swoonfully serious.

Johansson is equally terrific and her onscreen chemistry with Phoenix makes our hard drives whirr with unabashed pleasure.