#17 Her (2013)
3 February 2014
Love is an inevitable thing that mankind cannot ever withstand. Love is an intense emotion that can cross boundaries. This is accurate in Spike Jonze’s 2013 sci-fi romantic drama comedy about a man in a not-so distant future falling in love with his Operating System.
Exactly how complicated is it to love and be loved? How does technology affect our daily lives in this non-distant future? How important is it to care about the differences between two people? How do you describe your relationship with your mother? How do you share your life with somebody? What’s it like to be … alive?
These are just a few of the questions we get to encounter with “Her”. Written and directed by Spike Jonze who came up with the idea when he read an article about how instant messaging could be upgraded with artificial intelligence.
Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore Twombley is sensitive, calm, but immensely lonely. He works as an online letter writer — for people who couldn’t write letters for their loved ones. We see snipets of a lost love, though not immediately explained until we meet his new operating system. The OS1 is a hyper-rationalized artificial intelligence programmed to adapt to change and to evolve faster than any non man-made race. He chooses a woman voice for his operating system, since he’s recently been separated from his wife, played by Rooney Mara. Her name is Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johannsen (who never meets Joaquin Phoenix during production of the film, as she states in her interview with David Letterman). Her voice has this raspy quality that would probably sound appealing at night and sweetly assertive by day. She checks his emails, and works like his personal planner. Immediately “they” form a bond over feelings he tries to explain to her versus facts she’s gathered online.
It was exciting to see how sparks flew between Samantha and Theodore. It was immediate, intense, fun, exciting, and quite overwhelming. Overwhelming in a sense that I could never imagine how one could love someone so different from themselves. Different in a sense that one could never imagine possible. At this time and age we’d never deny that there would be a possibility but that’s not what this film centers on, which is great. I liked the subtleties of how modernity has changed in terms of what they’d wear (in this film, they wear really, really comfortable clothes), what things are most important, which ones to prioritize, etc. Everyone just had control on everything at the tip of their hands. They could just easily tap on walls to open doors, on table tops to control the temperature of their food. I liked that when there was a moment when Theodore could not find Samantha, a metaphor on how one cannot control the other, not one tap on his earphone could just bring her back.
Conflicts arise when Theodore realizes the differences between him and his girlfriend. Like most relationships, when we feel the same way we are oftentimes advised not to care about the differences. But what happens when the differences go as far as physical to metaphysical? What’s real and not real depends on the two people concerned. Theodore is able to address how he is aware of the differences that may put consequences towards his love for Samantha, being the hyper-rational system that she is programmed, she begins to feel confused with this sudden conflict that she is beginning to understand.
Although they resolve their differences by accepting each other, reality comes to Theodore in a far more bigger weight than what his past experiences has brought to him.
I was definitely moved. Love is a broad subject that I can’t really put a finger on. My favorite scenes, I’d probably just keep those to myself. Sharing your life with somebody, as discussed in the film, can be one of the greatest human experiences one definitely should not miss out on. I mean, I’ve never been too much personal on my posts here but at the moment I am happily in love. I love him. I didn’t feel as madly hurtful as before although the last scenes of a film would actually leave me broken or jaded. What I took away from this is that although we choose to find someone for ourselves, the more advanced our technology get, the more connected we are not just with one person but with a community or human nature in itself.
Here’s a short documentary of this film called ‘Love in the Modern World’.