It’s not often I go into a movie knowing nothing about it. Other than American Hustle, little escapes my trained eye. Years of practice has taught me to ignore things that aren’t meant for me. Her fell into that category. Word of mouth via podcasts urged me to see this. I took the uncommon chance to see this without knowing anything about it, other than it was a love story. Boy, was I caught off guard.
Right off the bat I enjoyed Her for its lack of exposition. The movie opened with Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore (who looks less crazed with a mustache, but just as creepy) writing a touching love letter. Between this and his demeanor, it’s easy to see how forlorn he is. That and after leaving work he plays melancholy songs on his phone. Adding to that is the use of technology. Everything was shown. The story obviously takes place in the future, but not once is it actually mentioned. No cleverly placed newspaper (because those things don’t exist), cue card or anything. This is in some vague future that’s obvious thanks to context clues. Showing, not telling.
Once Theodore purchased his new OS, Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), it was obvious the direction of the story. A man whole isolates himself subconsciously will cling to the only human (like) voice he interacts with. At first their relationship was cute. As it continued to grow, it became odd. When they had sex, it was outright strange. As it progressed, it was touching.
I needed some time to think about this movie before writing a review. I’ve have lots of thoughts and questions. The OS is a personality that tunes itself to its user upon installation. Therefore, isn’t it essentially a kernal based on the user? An extension thereof? Since the OS has near unlimited capacity to learn and perform, does it grow in ways you never could do to time constraints but wanted to? If the OS is an extension of the person, are its actions mirrors of your inner self? It was mentioned how someone tried to date their OS but was rejected. What does this say about the person? That they’re self loathing?
My list of questions goes on. Her is incredibly thought provoking. It’s easy to take the messaging at face value, a lonely man dates his computer, but this is so much more. What does it mean to be a person? To fall in love? How will technology come into play? What happens when we can replicate ourselves? When will the boundaries be crossed, if they still exist by then?
I won’t lie, there were plenty of odd moments where the reality of Samantha being a computer came crashing in. The surrogate near-sex scene was as awkward for the characters as it was for the audience. For the most part, she felt like the girl on the other end of the phone. Having been in a few long distance relationships, I can understand how Theodore felt.
There is one thing that really annoyed me though. Samantha mentioned that she upgraded herself, and I don’t exactly recall which, so either her hard drive or processor doesn’t use matter any more. Da fuu? Spike Jonze, scientist you are not.
Her is a good movie that brings with it many questions and ideas. Have an open mind. Look beyond the surface, and question. This reality is very much on the horizon.
Did the surrogate scene weird you out too? Would you date your computer if it sounded like ScarJo (I’d consider it)? Comment below!
His eyes are not that blue.