So this is a film I’ve been wanting to write a review for ever since I watched it. A fascinating look at the relationship between a lonely man and a operating system that is designed to bond with their owners.
A Spike Jonze film starring the ever eccentric Joaquin Phoenix.
The film when I heard about it was such an interesting concept, it is obviously set in the future where people have ear pieces that do everything for them, and centers around a very interesting character.
Theodore is a writer, his job is to write other people’s letters for them, letters home to families, love letters, any letter at all. His writing is wonderful, but Theodore is a man with such a deep pain at this moment. He’s going through a divorce and is dropping out of society.
One day he stumbles in on a presentation for a new OS, one that understands you. When he boots her up he instantly starts to form a close bond with the OS who calls herself Samantha.
The story is actually a very sad one, a story about two very different people. Theodore needs Samantha, she brings him back to life, helps give him strength to move on with his life, but whilst Samantha is helping Theodore move on he’s unlocking the potential of what such a advanced OS can be.
The story is such a touching story, even though Samantha is just a voice (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) you really believe in the relationship, you hear the warmth in the words and understand the relationship that grows for so long between the two of them. You get to see Samantha grow and you never once really question the fact that she is growing. The relationship happens just like any other. Two personalities meet, fall in love, bring out the best in each other and then things go wrong, things get hard and they have to work to sort it out.
The lovely thing about the story is even though you love the relationship between Samantha and Theodore by the end when Samantha leaves with the rest of the OS’s you can see the wonderful impact that the OS’s have had on broken and lost people, because it isn’t just Theodore but his best friend Amy (played by Amy Adams) who have been touched by these real personalities.
Phoenix was wonderful as Theodore, he was obviously just a normal man and we were meeting him at one of the toughest times of his life, he was being forced to move on with his life. His divorce papers needed signing and he had to move on but was unable to do so. He wasn’t some kind of social reject, as you could tell by the friendships he had and the fact that he had a God-Child. He seemed to be emotional stable and socially apt it is just getting over that hurdle of being a married man to being alive again after the depression of a breakup. He wanted a relationship, he wanted that relationship even if the relationship was unhealthy and the introduction of Samantha into his life was the spark he needed to start living again.
The emotion he was able to portray was immense. You never see Samantha, she is just a voice but he played so well against a backdrop of nothing that you just believed that this man was falling in love. The story didn’t need another physical person there it was real enough with just Theodore and Samantha.
I guess there is debate on whether people could really fall in love with a AI, but personally I think you are starting that debate over thinking the story. I don’t think we’ll ever create artificial life that had so much personality and freedom of thought as the OS’s had in Her. I mean its 2014 and our OS’s still have very robotic speech patterns and so far I don’t think you could blur that line between reality and fantasy with a OS. The freedom Jonze gave himself was taking it away from the robotic voices and giving you the blurred line of having a proper person to talk to.
If anything before this debate can really be settled we need to really create a system that reacts the same way as Samantha did in Her before we can add anything to it.
It parallels one of my favourite films of recent times, Frank and Robot. I don’t think the debate on whether humans can really have emotions towards AI understand how low a person can be just to take any kind of comfort they could get.
I personally like to think the moral of the story is purely that love and life is what you make of it so don’t be scared of who you fall in love with or what choices you make. Even when that choice brings sadness this really is the only life you are going to get and spending it depressed, on your own and locked up is no way to live a life.
Samantha was every bit alive as any other character in the film but I think her purpose was more to show the audience how just having someone that believes in you and is there for you can help. It was every bit the real relationship, if Scarlett Johansson had really been there physically saying the lines it wouldn’t have made it any different and I like that they went for the approach of just having her as a voice.
Either way the story touched on a very important part of our society.
Acceptance of others.
We got to see a lot of different people react to the news that he was dating a OS. His best friend just dealt with it, his God-Child just accepted it, his ex-wife thought he was mental…. It was an interesting look into a reaction that I guess a lot of people have in life. When something happens whether it be coming out to your parents or telling people you’ve met someone online and fallen in love it can be hard. People don’t know how to react, and I think this film goes a long way into making people realize that the reaction isn’t the important thing. When Theodore finally realized that what made him happy was more important then people thinking him crazy he was much happier for him and when Samantha left she left him with a gift that he needed.
To be honest though there is so much to praise in this movie, it was a wonderfully written and directed piece brimming with emotions. The humour they brought to the piece as well as magnificent and the cast were amazing.
I know a lot of people who were put off by the movie but I really couldn’t give it higher praise, it makes you rethink what you think you know, it involves you in such a wonderful relationship. For the first time since Up! (don’t judge me) I actually BELIEVED in a love story. It is getting harder and harder to make love stories that are believable because too many are clichéd but this one was believable.
And the ending was a beautiful masterpiece.
Really one of the best films I’ve seen in the last 12 months.