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Is ‘Her’ the future of Los Angeles?

Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore in the romantic drama
Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore in the romantic drama "Her," directed by Spike Jonze, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture

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Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ is set in future-L.A., an unspecified decades-away version of the city with a more dense skyline and a sprawling public transit system. Jonze’s version of Los Angeles isn’t particularly dystopian or retro.

New York architects helped redesign the skyline, adding tall buildings far beyond the borders of modern downtown. The city’s new look borrows from Shanghai, where many of the film’s street scenes were shot.

The new L.A. seems car-less — people rely instead on large walkways in the city center and an expansive train system that protagonist Theodore Twombly takes to and from work and, presumably, to a few area beaches and other city locations.

How did the production team design the new Los Angeles? Is this the future of the city? How might things change in the next few decades? What inspired the architecture and design for the film? Los Angeles Times’ architecture critic explores these issues in his analysis of the film. 


Christopher Hawthorne, architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times