Her (2013) - 9 / 10
"Sometimes I think I have felt everything I'm ever gonna feel. And from here on out, I'm not gonna feel anything new. Just lesser versions of what I've already felt." - Theodore Twombly
Can we love a machine? Other films and novels have tackled this, generally accepting that if a machine takes on human form it could be quite possible. With "Her" we go a step further - no physical form whatsoever, just a disembodied voice with a near-infinite intelligence. Is such a thing capable of loving or being loved? This film suggests yes, and makes a strong argument for that.
There is a distinctive sad tone to the film and many other reviewers call the film "hauntingly melancholy" and I like that description because it’s so true. It’s been a long time since I saw a movie that felt so heavy in a lot of ways. And this is weird, since this is a movie about a man and a computer sharing a romantic relationship and I'm feeling their emotions.
What is so wonderful about “Her” is the world that Spike Jonze creates. Is that this is a world exactly like ours. The key for me is how casually his characters use their tech. People walk around with tech sticking out of their ears, talking to themselves, and going about their business completely oblivious to what's happening around them. We have, "interactions," and, "connections," with other people through our devices. We walk past strangers who are using the same tech and having the same experience. We rely so much on these devices to go through day to day living.
The future that this movie portraits is a world that reminiscence the basic stuff, such as handwritten letters, as if they are timelessly special, while the innovations have become just ordinary, assuming that the rarity of the quality to everyday life is what makes one thing valuable.
Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore Twombly, a man separated from his wife who spends most of his time working, checking emails, playing video games, and talking to his computer. But like I said before, he is not the only person partaking in this ritual. The majority of the characters and extras in the film are talking to their ear pieces and interacting with their computers, or OS (operating system). Things change when OS-1 comes out, introducing the world's first artificially intelligent OS. Shortly thereafter we are introduced to Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johnansson). This first encounter will forever change Theodore's life.
Instead of talking to “Siri” about a new email, listening to music, or taking a picture, Theodore shares all of these rituals with Samantha. So he's not just listening to music. He's listening to a song Samantha picked out (or composed) just for him. He's not just taking a picture of a sunset. Instead he and Samantha can experience it. They converse about what they're doing instead of just contemplating about meaninglessly.
By giving the tech a personality and the ability to think, it makes the experience of being alone not so lonely. Theodore and Samantha overcome many obstacles in their relationship, the first being that Samantha isn't just an OS. Samantha is, well, Samantha. A free thinking, super intrusive mind that has desires and needs and can be happy and afraid all at once. It's brilliant how the outside world views their relationship. In short, it's perfectly okay to have this relationship.
The film's message is quite clear: love can happen anywhere, to anyone, and even to anything. It is depicted as sweet, until it slowly stumbles and finally realizes that there is no better relationship than the concrete interaction to people.
Scarelett's performance was absolutely incredible. She brings vibrancy, energy, and of course, great sex appeal as the voice of Theodore's sexy OS. When I come to think of it, I can't actually think who else could have voiced such a character. Instantly recognizable, Samantha transports us to a world that you could only dream of. Her presence is in her voice! That's the whole point of her portrayal. And, boy, you sure know it as you get drawn in by the calm comfort and sexuality of her tone. What I would have liked to see was Johansson actually physically appear on screen as the surrogate Samantha hires to act as her body for sex. But, hey, I imagine the whole point of "Her" was the appreciation of somebody through some outer body experience - the complexity and unbelievable mass communications system that we can only hope to see in years to come.
Of course, though, Phoenix's lead was something brilliant, in the writing and performance. What he does with the character is quite incredible, as we see this man who has been through a lot; divorce, loneliness, etc, but is still quite naive. He still doesn't understand certain things, and sometimes sees things and situations in a child-like way. This was beautiful, as again is shows you what people can be like when in love.
This near tangible relationship with a non tangible being is, at first glance, odd. There is a scene where Theodore can't find Samantha. His connection to the server isn't going through. He frantically searches for connectivity, like a parent looking for a lost child at Disneyland. We don't look at this as crazy. We can sympathize because we do the same thing, like when we search for free wi-fi or that elusive 3G bar we desperately need for a phone call. Heaven help us if for one minute we can't receive an update or check our email, for the alternative is...alone time...
When Theodore can't connect to the server, he is left alone, and the thought of being alone scares the hell out of him.
The music is something I can't flaw. This soundtrack is just so perfect and works incredibly with the film. It's almost as if it's a mirror to the emotions you feel. There's a wonderful scene where you literally see nothing, but it's acted so well and intertwined with the music so brilliantly that it's as if you’re seeing everything, and not just a blank screen. Even though there was a slight over use of sequences of Twombly mopeing around the city, the music mixed with it so well that it was more of a feeling that another sequence.
It may seem all absurd, but if you think about it, it really is not, the way we are already all bound to our gadgets in one way or the other. As it is now, actual personal human interaction is already being compromised by our dependence on technology. This film will make you reflect and reconsider your own attachments to technology and people around you who love you.
In the end, the message is simple, no matter how much technology evolves to make our lives easier, it can never be a satisfying substitute for human interaction and intimacy, but despite the message being unoriginal, it is conveyed in the most creatively honest way.