Friday, 7 February 2014
Directed by Spike Jonze
Nominated for 5 Oscars, Including Best Picture
Theodore Twobly is lonely. Living in the not-so-distant future, he works at a letter writing company, and spends his time playing video games and plugged into his OS, a small ear piece which reads out his emails, the news, etc. Through his OS he has access to everything and anything. He is also in the stages of getting a divorce. One he doesn't really want. However, a new version, OS1, has just been released and it's the first artificial intelligent OS. Upon set-up, he gets quizzed and selects that he would like a woman's voice for his OS. And there he meets Samantha. Samantha, his new, artificially intelligent OS, is funny, vivacious and curious about Theodore's world and Theodore is instantly drawn in. While hesitant at first, Theodore finds Samantha a great companion, especially because he's so lonely. And as they spend more and more time together, talking, etc, they find themselves falling in love.
Her is definitely a movie for my generation and age group it seems. Theodore lives in a pretty hipster world where everyone seems to have some sort of really artsy job, all the men have mustaches, and are all connected to their OS's. Admittedly, the movie had a few very explicit scenes that the movie could've done without. This, I thought, was a large fault of the movie. They were uncomfortable to watch/listen to, and I felt the film could've done without (I'm speaking to you, adult chatroom dead cat choking scene).
However, the world building for this film really was in depth and incredible. The details were all there and it made everything seem a lot more realistic without seeming ridiculous. A man falling in love with his OS could've been really lame and ridiculous but the way Spike Jonze handled the world, the relationship and the characters really avoided that.
Not that I've seen much of Joaquin Phoenix's body of work, but this seems like an extremely different role for him. He really was quite exceptional as Theodore, and really conveyed his sadness, his loneliness, and his want to just be happy. As well, Scarlett Johansson did some great voice work as Samantha. It really felt like Samantha was there in the room with Theodore. As well, I really enjoyed Amy Adams in this as well. I really loved his curly-haired hipster look, it was super cute. I kind of wish I looked like that actually.
But what the film did most was ask us questions. And a lot of them, whether we know it or not. What makes a relationship a relationship? Does it have to be 2 people? Is it bodies? Or sex? Or connecting with someone's personality? Or just talking? Theodore goes through all these questions. He has people who are happy for him upon hearing who his new girlfriend is, and then he has other people, his ex-wife for instance, that tell him he's crazy, and that he was never good at relationships, and being in one with a computer must be perfect for him. But then there's Amy, who just tells him to do what makes him happy.
In the end, we are left contemplating what constitutes a real relationship, in a world where technology is everywhere. Can technology really fulfill us and make us truly happy? In the end, no, it doesn't, not truly anyway. Maybe temporarily, but not forever.
But the film also doesn't give us really clear answers. We see Theodore's several different relationships. We have him and Samantha, we see snapshots of him and Catherine (his ex wife), and him and Amy. All very different, but all definitely trying to say something about relationships. And all of them require communication, and in the end, maybe that's what a relationship needs. Trust, loyalty and communication.
Overall, the film was exquisitely beautiful. The cinematography was gorgeous, really capturing both LA and Shanghai as beautiful and futuristic. And I'm adoring the fact that this is getting so much screenplay love. Especially over American Hustle. The world building in this film was incredible and so dedicated. And Theodore is such a complex and lonely character, and all the women shown all have different messages to give us about relationships. While I felt Samantha was a little too human (then again, we're not used to AI OS's), Theodore was a very rich character and you really felt his pain and loneliness. Did he remind anyone else of Lennard from Big Bang Theory? Just Me?
Anyway, I loved the film, but the only thing that draws me back from loving it more is the explicit scenes which were uncomfortable and unnecessary. Other than that, it's a film that asks questions, makes you think, but is also well-written and beautiful.
Posted by Heather Martin