Is the idea of being romantically involved with a software really that bizarre? Is such a relationship any different from a long distance relationship? Or for that matter hundreds of friendships we have on social networks, with people, we rarely or ever meet in person
So this week I watched the latest, Spike Jonze saga that caught my attention at the 2014 Oscars namely, Her. And boy what a curious experience that was. Now before I crack on an obsequious monologue about the various aspects of Her let me state beforehand that I haven’t gone through the reviews accredited to this film except one from my cousin after I gave him a supposed teaser of the film:
“Bro I really don’t understand this alternate lifestyle you are living” – my point being, I’m quite impartial to the general opinions on this film.
Right, so Her is set in the not too distant future where an eccentric middle aged guy, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), falls in love with his computer’s operating system, Samantha (voiced by the very beautiful, Scarlett Johansson). The film basically revolves around the burgeoning relationship of the two lead characters as they get to ‘know’ each other more – till there relationship morphs in to something that can only be ascribed to trails, tribulations and eventual ‘break-up’ of that most elusive of feelings called love.
Well that’s just how simple the plot is, but the films real crown jewels are its two very real, very visceral lead characters and the novelty of their relationship. Theodore is one of the top writers for a custom letter writing company that provides beautiful and eloquent letters for workaholics looking to charm their significant others. He lives alone in melancholy as he reminisces about his ex-wife in flashbacks of all the incredible times they had. I like the idea that he is not the usual iconoclastic writer around the block struggling to make ends meet or one past his glory. His writing maybe average but he has a penchant for writing from the depths of his heart which many around him appreciate.
Samantha is an inquisitive, cutting edge, consciously aware, voice activated operating system designed to exhibit artificial intelligence. Besides executing simple tasks of an intelligent assistant; increasing productivity, daily planning, archiving emails, setting reminders etc. she also takes care of the psychological state of her users by interacting with them. For instance when Theodore breaks down one night after a bad date Samantha tries to cheer him up or when she ‘takes him out’ in the city one evening. She plays the role of a very likeable girl you would constantly be talking to on the phone due to physical limitations, a fact obvious when we see shots of Theodore’s ecstatic face talking to his ear piece that depicts the interaction between the two.
While watching one can’t help but wonder when Theodore would finally come to his senses and get out of the whole façade. Over here Spike Jonze offers another convincing plot point which flows with the story; when Samantha tells Theodore that she can’t love him and him alone as she is in the middle of broadening her horizons and developing her artificial faculties, which is eerily similar to career conflicts in relationships between people.
Where the film falls short in cinematography it more than makes up for it in conceptualisation. It give us a glimpse of a near future and I am positive that one day soon we will hear of a real Theodore and a real Samantha. This is a cult classic!