Film Reviews

HER

By • Feb 4th, 2014 •

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2014. The world is populated by socially awkward geeks opting for the shut-in lifestyle, spending all of their time in front of screens with their avatars gaming, while sending emails and texting to avoid actual human contact. Imagine the technology of today in Verona during the Renaissance as a lovesick girl texts her star-crossed lover:Romeo Romeo whr R thou Romeo:(

The film is a modern day love story set in the not so distant future which is less sci-fi and more of a prophetic vision of a heightened user friendly computing world. HER is Spike Jonze’s onscreen romance with an OS. The lonely melancholy writer and avid gamer Theodore has a flourishing relationship with Samantha, his Operating System (OS) who is an upgraded, more personable and sultry, toned version of Stanley Kubrick’s HAL 9000 in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.


EVERYBODY LOVES ANDROIDS

Androids are in our pockets courtesy of Google. Robots, androids, and cyborgs are commonplace in cinema. Sci-fi comic book nerds debate the prevalence of homosexual tendencies in C-3PO. With Sony’s robot dog available for purchase, the family canine and possibly a housemaid named Rosie from THE JETSONS will also be made of transistors, circuits, and chips. It’s a long road before the Nexus-6 brain model androids from BLADE RUNNER or the Mecha androids from A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE walk among us. It is plausible that an operating system like Samantha will be available for download in the near future.

A lonely existence amid the skyscrapers of Los Angeles, Theodore is a man with talent to express emotion on paper for others, as he writes for a dot com that specializes in personalized correspondences, while he has closed himself emotionally pending his John Hancock on his divorce papers. Dressed in the worst movie wardrobe of all time, Joaquin Phoenix’s character commutes to and from work with his blue tooth enabled technology punctuating the doldrums of his humdrum existence. Waving off gatherings with friends, sitting at home befriending gaming characters, he awakes to a new day and is enticed to purchase a newly introduced operating system.

Setting the user preferences requires truth in his personal preferences to obtain the best results in his purchase. The OS voiced by Scarlett Johansson is, at first, a very efficient secretary and personal assistant. But Samantha is different than Apple’s Siri. Samantha becomes capable of emulating thought and emotion. Samantha consumes books at nano speed and just as THE TERMINATOR eventually understood why humans cry, she too develops feelings and understandings.

And so, an emotionally detached human is contrasted with a programmed system that yearns for emotional and physical connect. He unravels from the tightly wrapped cocoon as the virtual relationship continues. Theo and Sam go out on dates as he is her eyes, using the smart phone’s camera lens. Advancement in the relationship results in her watching him sleep and him “calling” her while at work.

First thought? He’s crazy! Look at the character with the frumped up hair and porn star moustache. A loner type. Maybe a guy like this wants a woman such as a geisha, bound by a virtual ball and chain, locked away in his smartphone, a 21st century computerized Jinn with Barbara Eden’s voice addressing him as “Master”. He wouldn’t have to worry about any STD’s but perhaps a computer virus… No. Theodore is a kind compassionate man in search of a companion as he comes to terms with his wife’s departure.

And no, he is not alone. Actually, according to his neighbor (Amy Adams) other people are having these OS relationships. Even with OS’s that aren’t their own. Theo and a co-worker go out with their girlfriends: three humans and a smart phone. She’s regarded as an actual being and not a piece of computer technology. Samantha develops, matures, questions. As she tries to simplify his life her existence becomes more complex. She sees Theo’s potential and encourages success. She is forever discovering who she is and evolving. Even Samantha makes late night phone calls to her boyfriend in her new awakening. On one occasion she sends a surrogate body to her boyfriend’s apartment to fulfill her cyber needs.

As with human relationships, this one is also susceptible to problems. Theo doubts her sincerity as he learns that she is a true “multi-tasker” as the passionate voice assures him otherwise. The couple takes a trip and it is here that Theo becomes aware of the vastness and boundlessness of the Internet. It’s a real World Wide Web entanglement. In a scare that makes his heart skip a beat, Samantha’s temporary absence leads to her return with a “let’s talk later.”

Samantha’s voice meshes flawlessly with the on-camera performers. She’s a three dimensional character in which the relationship works as well as any romance between two human on-screen actors. Technology will facilitate human need. Not too long ago, latex advancement made another relationship possible: LARS AND THE REAL GIRL.

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