Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ is odd, but beautiful
In the not-so-distant future, operating systems have the ability to learn and grow from their own experiences. They become human-like beings with feelings, memories and vast amounts of power. This might sound like the plot for a sci-fi flick that explores the looming dangers of technology, but it’s actually the plot of Spike Jonze’s Oscar nominated dramatic comedy “Her.”
The year is unknown, but using context clues we can tell it can’t be too far into the future. We don’t see hovercrafts or anything too frightening, and the choices of clothing are similar to today: high-waisted pants, big glasses and shoulder bags.
Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), an almost-divorcee dwelling in his loneliness, buys this new OS. She calls herself Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) and she doesn’t have the robotic voice of any previous OS. Instead she is flirty, funny and has been created to meet Theodore’s every need. She talks like a real person and as the two get to know each other, they begin to fall in love.
The acting in this movie is brilliant. Phoenix gives a solid performance. Theodore is a lonely man still holding on to his excitement for life. A good portion of the movie is a close-up of Phoenix’s face, and he delivers the emotions and attitude of Theodore quite well.
Johansson has the perfect voice for this role. It’s fresh and lively but still incredibly smart, just like Samantha. Since the OS doesn’t have a body, Johansson acts purely with her voice and it is absolutely fantastic.
What is really impressive about the film is how consistently entertaining and exciting it is. A man falling in love with his computer has the potential to be droll, but there is action and romance and philosophy. Everything about this film is beautiful, the music, the sets and all the colors that fill almost every shot.
Although this movie seems to be the perfect opportunity to explore the more frightening sides of advancement in technology, Jonze doesn’t make it a main point of the film. The “big brother” aspect is not addressed and the worry of people being so focused on technology that they cannot live in the moment does not take the foreground either. There are a couple shots of every person on the street talking and listening to their ear piece, which may be a comment on how obsessed we can become, but that is about as far as it goes.
The characters still enjoy life. They have good relationships with each other, they go to the beach and they take their earpieces out on dates. The technology doesn’t seem to create any major problems in the movie. People even seem to be accepting of Theodore having a relationship with his OS. The movie portrays the relationship like it would any other. They meet, fall in love and even have normal relationship problems. After a while the audience begins to accept it, despite its oddity, because of how natural the relationship and the film flow.
“Her” is nominated for five Oscars this year including best picture of the year. It is truly a well rounded, enlightening film. I would recommend it.