Her (2013)


Her (2013)I’ve wanted to catch Her (2013) since I first heard about it the other year, the very premise of the film had my attention. Not to mention with Spike Jonze writing and directing, a big move away from working with Charlie Kaufman in terms of feature film work who could easily have been involved in such a project. What we have is a classic sci-fi idea, falling in love with a computer, it’s far from new, I’ve seen it before in Futurama when Bender fell for the computer on the Planet Express Ship, with a Kubrikan twist at the end.

The idea is far from new, that doesn’t mean it can’t be explored again in a utopian future where computers still sit on our desk and all we have to do is talk to the screen and it writes what we recite, written in a unique handwriting. How far we have come in this not so distant future, to the point where your operating system can be personalised to the user, down to the voice you choose to work with. Something that writer  Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) buys into, latching onto that idea of a unique operating system. It’s not long until the now lonely soon to be divorcee writer meets the voice he was destined to live with on his OS.

I was first struck by the crisp and fresh cinematography, so bright, filling every part of every frame of the film. It’s beautiful to watch, as the grey metropolis in the background is contrasted by the bright pastel colour-scheme of this indie inspired future. So very contemporary in style projected into a future that you can feel we are leaning into as we reach that possible future. I could watch this film with the sound off and enjoy the images that are on the screen.

I was waiting for Scarlett Johansson voice to make its debut in the film, the build up was probably more down to me. As we wonder what the sound of the new OS voice will be, personally tailored to  Theodore’s shy personality. Johansson is a real breath of fresh air that Theodore needs in his life as he begins to let Samantha as she call herself enters his life. What begins as taking on the function of an interactive interface with his computer, answering his emails etc becomes a friend and eventually lover. A delusional state that mind that seems be the norm in this future. It’s normal to have a conversation on the mobile with a hands free set, now an ear piece is all they need to connect to the technology of the time. That is the norm which we see walking the streets.

Technology becomes a substitute for human contact that he needs to move on with his life. It’s scary how an OS can compensate for human interaction that he sorely needed away from work and his friend Amy (Amy Adams) who is there throughout with her own problems in life. That leap to a relationship is more easily accepted by his friends that embrace this new stage in Theodore’s life as he move on. But is he really moving on, or is he just hiding from a proper relationship as his ex-wife Catherine (Rooney Mara) who makes him think about his introverted his life has become, how insecure he must be to turn to technology substituting humanity. He isn’t the only one doing it though, as we see when a sex-surrogate is invited to allow Samantha to finally sleep with Theodore. It had to happen, as we see the limitations of the relationship come through to be seen by them both. 

It’s not just about the joy that technology can bring us but the downside of that benefit, before we need to turn back to what we instinctively now is right, to be embraced by another human being. Technology can never replace that in the long-term. Only a short-term solution, we forget the bigger picture that this technology is being shared with others. In this case we underestimate the technology which is ever changing and adapting growing, as we see when Samantha meets an approximation of a writer in the form of an online consciousness, we all need our own kind to grow. 

Her is a fun and exciting film that looks at the possibility of life with technology, how far we can go with it before it fights back. Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore is lapping up this introverted role, just having so much fun in this not-so distant future. Whilst Johansson is the real star for me, her off-screen presence as just a voice is what brings this light film alive to a level that is both intelligent and fun. Making sic-fo more engaging for the audience who may usually turn away from the usually heavy genre. The special effects in this film become part of the fabric of that world which feels so real to audience. It doesn’t just explore the what if of falling in love with a computer to what the could be, the consequences of the relationship, without being too heavy, we realise it all on our own, allowing us to consider what is going on. I’m just kicking myself I have only gotten around to watching this film that was for a while hiding from me.

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2 responses

  1. Loved this movie so very much and felt as if it was a real sign as to why Spike Jonze should be working a whole lot more. Good review Tim.

    January 17, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    • Jonze is one on his own, I wouldn’t say Auteur but there is something that makes him stand out like his friend Kaufman.

      January 18, 2015 at 11:06 am

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