The relationship that we have with our technological gadgets may make the relationship amongst human beings seem obsolete when they can figure out how to make an operating system sound more human and less robotic which is the concept of the film “Her.”
Look around and see individuals with their head bowed down as they gaze upon the small screen of their phones, tablets and other devices. Even amongst our peers in close proximity, we talk to one another through these instruments losing the human voice and essence walling off personal closeness and connections.
In director, writer Spike Jonze’s not too distant future, Joaquin Phoenix portrays Theodore Twombly, whose male character follows other leading male characters in Mr. Jonze's film in that he's lonely and isolated from those around him. But perhaps he's not quite so alone as people begin to lose the ability to connect to one another, so it's up to people like Theodore to connect them to their friends, family and significant other as he tries to capture their voice in order to convey their message and feelings in letters.
Even though Theodore has a knack and is praised for his ability to compose well written verses of love and tender moments, his own life is the polar contrast. His soon to be ex-wife, Catherine (Rooney Mara), asks for a divorce and leaves him as he has no one to turn to for support as he live life of his former self devoid of life and essence. The only individuals close to Theodore is his friend from college Amy (Amy Adams) and work colleague Paul (Chris Pratt) who is amazed with his way with the words.
To balance the heavy hearted drama, Mr. Jonze uses comedy by placing Theodore into unusual predicaments with his take on the future of chat rooms, technology and placing him on a blind date. After all those sequence of events, it’s easy to see why Theodore is subdued by the voice of Scarlett Johansson as the OS1 Samantha.
They communicate through an ear piece and through the phone’s camera lenses that serves as her eyepiece to the world. Fitting in the comfort of his shirt pocket, he can take Samantha to see the world and experience new things that robots can only dream but never feel and touch.
Viewers will hear another side of Ms. Johannson that they have never heard before. She’s able to portray the innocence and naivety of a computer program whose only purpose is to serve in helping him organize and other aspect of his life before she evolves picking up infinite knowledge while multitasking. Her ability to grasp the concept of emotionality and emote well with Theodore makes the audience forget that she’s a technological invention with her desire of being a real girl.
What goes against Ms. Johannson is the fact that audience knows who she is through her body of film work and the fact that she’s a lovely actress. If the film had decided to use an unknown actress would the concept work? Or for that matter, what if the genders were reversed with a lonely female who’s consoled by the operating system of a male voice?
What starts out as intrigue and curiosity turns this system interface between the user and technology to a friendly rapport before he's able to come out to his friend and society that he's dating his operating system. A scene that works well for both Mr. Phoenix and Ms. Johansson has dramatic essence as he's concerned for her well being after his response is not met with her reassuring voice. From that moment, it foreshadows the dread and weariness that comes with technology as he realizes that his life is not complete without her.
But what makes the relationship between Theodore and Samantha come close to a human to human relationship isn’t the fantastical but the way they preserve and work on their romance despite its limitations. Theodore's attempt at wooing and romance is what makes him such an endearing character as he shows Samantha the world and all its wonder after wallowing in self pity.
Like any relationship, there’s the exciting and the unknown to see what develops, but once the honeymoon phase is over comes the normalcy as each partner needs their own space. From that moment comes to the realization that each party has certain expectations of each other that they must both work on in order to retain the heat and passion of their systemic love.
The conversation centers around whether or not technology is beneficial to humans with the many tasks that can be done at the click of a button but at the same time building up walls that separates us from other humans. For those that are lonely, artificial intelligence serves as a companion and aide, but eventually technology can even break down and it has its limitations. But we end up back where we started with the only exception that they are not there when we really need them the most.
Grade: 4.5 stars out of 5 stars
Add “Her” onto the lists of filmmaker Spike Jonze’s body of work that takes a look at the fantastical world in which a man and his operating system can fall in love.
Rating: R for language, sexual content and brief graphic nudity.
Timing: 2 Hours, 6 Minutes
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance, Drama, Comedy