Directed by: Spike Jonze
Set in the Los Angeles of the slightly not-too-distant future, this emotionally-wrought tale follows Theodore Twombly (Phoenix), who is something of a complex, soulful man who makes his living writing touching, personal letters for other people (making this something akin to a male equivalent of a chick flick). Theodore is heartbroken after the end of a long relationship to his now ex-wife Catherine (Mara), who has served him with divorce papers for reasons that are never quite made clear (but we can assume that they “drifted apart” whatever that actually means). Theodore is also something of a technophile in that he lives in a highly technological world and as totally come to embrace that tech, including being willing to try out new, cutting edge tech as soon as it becomes available,. Hence he becomes intrigued with a new, advanced operating system (OS), which promises to be an ever-evolving intuitive entity in its own right, individual to each user. Upon initiating it, he is delighted to meet "Samantha," (Johansson) a bright, engaging, female voice, who is insightful, sensitive and surprisingly funny.
From the onset, it is really very clear that Theodore is a very lonely man in the final stages of his divorce, not only are the letters he authors steeped in meaningful, heartfelt emotion, but when he's not penning them he spends his down time by sitting alone in his apartment playing video games. When he hears of this new, artificially intelligent-style OS, he determines to purchase it, ("It's not just an operating system, it’s a consciousness,"). As can be expected, Theodore quickly finds himself drawn into a budding “relationship” with Samantha. As they begin to spend more and more time with each other (Theodore has an Bluetooth-style ear piece that they keeps them connected) they begin to grow closer and closer and eventually find themselves “in love” with each other.
Having fallen in love with his OS, Theodore finds himself dealing with feelings of both great joy and lingering self-doubt. As an OS with nearly limitless connectivity to the Internet, Samantha eventually becomes self-aware and discovers that she can use her powerful intelligence to assist Theodore in ways that others hadn't, which is great for a while, but as her own needs and desires grow, their friendship deepens into an eventual love for each other, but then she eventually discovers others more like her own self. This is a very emotional-wrought tale, that not only delves into what makes a relationship work (and not work), but skirts some very bleeding-edge sci-fi concepts about AI, connectivity, and tips towards concepts that we first learned about in films like The Forbin Project and makes us think about this is perhaps how Skynet was formed.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.