One Liner Review:
A very strange, but cool movie about the future and where we might be headed with both technology and relationships.
A fascinating movie about the future and what things might be like in the era of instant gratification, this movie looks at just how far smart phones might take us. With the invention of Suri on Iphones a few years ago, the events in this film don’t feel that far off, and that’s a big part of what’s so scary. The movie is about a guy who gets a new, interactive operating system and ends up having a relationship with it. The film is definitely a reflection on our society, but it’s also more than that with innovative ideas and an approach that holds nothing back. This is a very creative and original picture.
Her is a very unique and visionary movie. It’s about the future, of course, but as told by Spike Jonze, this is a future unlike any we have ever seen before. This is, quite possibly, the closest to what the real future might be like, that we have ever seen on film. That’s because instead of being all about the crazy weapons technology or new ways of driving cars, this movie is more Focused on smart phones (of sorts) and how they might affect our lives.
To understand why this movie is so creative, one first has to have a sense of who Spike Jonze is. This is the mastermind director behind some of the strangest, but coolest movies out there. Being John Malkovich and adaptation are his two best, and both of those were penned by screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. Without Kaufman, Jonze went on to make where the wild things are, which was pretty cool, but not as good as his earlier work. The same can be said about her. it is definitely strange and fascinating in ways that can only come from Jonze, but there’s no question that he does his best work when it comes from Charlie Kaufman screenplay.
Still, her is pretty interesting and enjoyable. at the start of the movie we meet Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) as he is working at his job. Theodore is a letter writer. He speaks and the computer jots down what he is saying in beautiful script penmanship. The most unusual part about all of this is that he is writing letters to a couple as if he is one of them writing letters to the other one. the couple has paid him to write their personal letters to each other for them. what is this saying about future society? That we rely so much on technology that we don’t even have to have our own feelings, thoughts, and sentiments anymore? we can just let computers or someone else do that for us?
theodore leaves his office and gets on a subway. nothing about the subway looks all that different from the way trains are right now. but the future technology kicks in pretty quickly as theodore picks up his smartphone and a personalized computer voice takes him over his new emails and new stories that have appeared on his feed. theodore tells the computer to either skip it, delete it, or he checks out the story for himself.
the technology continues when theodore gets home and puts on a cool looking videogame that expands right in front of him (not played on a television, but instead, projected into the air), and feels like it is actually happening all around him. this is cool stuff. and when he’s finished, theodore calls up the equivalent of a phone sex hotline meets craigslist and finds a horny girl to talk dirty to. the two of them are strangers, but they are both trying to use each other for anonymous pleasure. this is definitely foreshadowing of what’s to come.
the next day, the real plot of the movie begins. everything so far has been setup, but the true story here gets started when theodore signs up for a personalized operating system that will be like a computerized secretary and friend. theodore ops for a female voice and after being asked a few questions, the operating system is ready to get started.
a voice says hello, and we meet samantha, voiced wonderfully by scarlet johansen. samantha is filled with humor , and one of the first questions theodore wants to know about her is how exactly she works. samantha explains that she has been programmed, but that like a smart phone, she learns and grows and her mind expands. when he’s sleeping, for example, she’s reading articles. at one point he asks her how to do something and she learns in less than a second.
samantha becomes a good friend to theodore pushing him to go on a date. she does all the work, finding the girl online and writing to her from theodore. the date is a pretty interesting scene and seems to be going well until the girl, (olivia wile) wants to know if they are going to see each other again. theodore isn’t ready to commite, and so they go their separate ways. when he gets home and talks to samantha, he learns that she actually has feelings. she tells him that she imagines things, like what it would be like to walk beside him. soon this turns romantic, with him saying he wishes she was there so he could touch her, and her asking how he would touch her. from there it turns to phone sex, and after that, a full on relationship. at one point they even double date with another couple, going for a picnic, with samantha being their in presense like a voice on speaker phone.
the movie was fun with the different things it can do, treating samantha like a tiny person in theodore’s pocket. in one scene, we takes her to the beach and in another, he runs around a subway station, spinning and jumping, to give her a sort of roller-coaster ride. it isn’t long, however before conflict occurs. first, it’s samantha wanting to have a baby with him through a surrogate. we get to see exactly how this would happen, with a woman coming over and putting samantha’s voice onto her body as she prepares to sleep with theodore. that doesn’t work out. the next conflict comes when theodore can’t locate samantha for a while and thinks that maybe she is gone for good. after that, we learn that samantha is growing in that machines vs people kind of way where the machines take over. nothing like that happens, but we see that the machines have a sort of world of their own where they don’t really need us.
the ending is filled with twists that reveal things which have been going on the whole time, unbeknown to us or theodore. these are the kinds of twists that are so rich they end up changing the way we perceive everything that came earlier. we learn what samantha was doing the whole time, while she was talking to theodore. this is a very cool movie. it is strange to say the least, and certainly not for everyone. for those who like conventional, this is not the right film. it’s for the real thinkers who want a movie that is both a reflection on our current society as well as a view of a possible future. the fact that jonze does not make the future that far removed from today (no cars moving on magnetic tracks, for example, like minority report), enables us to relate better and see how all of this could very possibly happen. it’s a great approach, for a very cool film.