They always say a dog is a man’s best friend, in Spike Jonze‘s Her (2014) man’s best friend is his computer (or operating System). It seems technology has advanced, advancing to such a level replacing the need for true human companionship now comes in the shape of artificial intelligence is it a reflection of today’s society?
Set in the near future, In Her we meet Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) a lonely, complexed man who recently divorced. He lives in Los Angeles and makes a living writing personal letters, messages for those who find it hard to express their true feelings. What Theodore desires companionship and buys a new operating system (O.S) which you can create to your own personal style, creating Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) created to aide Theodore’s daily tasks and to manage his workload efficiently. Over time Samantha becomes more keen to help Theodore when she learns so much about him a relationship blossom leads to him questioning the true meaning of love and human contact.
What Her does is shatter the myth that love has no borders or even boundaries. The days of finding true love or companionship the old fashioned ways have long gone all thanks to the internet. The world is getting smaller, people are finding love in the far flung corners of the world or dating sites delivering a platform of confidence for those who find it hard to ask that special one out. This opens your eyes to the fact that humans have seemed to have lost the basic means to communicate with each other on a personal level. How many times have you seen couples, families not talking just their faces glued to their mobiles or tablets? Sadly too often. Phones have become mini computers, social media seems to be the new way to interacting, in the film Theodore’s phone is an earplug which he talks to Samantha. We see him walking to work as are the other people going to work talking to someone.
Is the human interaction merely artificial, using technology for that quick fix which we feel soulless after it. A need to talk to someone asks you are we really that separated from life? It feels Theodore is but we don’t really learn too much about why Theodore is how he is apart from flashbacks. The female touch is what he misses most consorting to phone sex with Sex Kitten (voiced by the uncredited Kristen Wiig) who demands him ‘to choke me with that dead cat’ of course Theodore obliged giving her an orgasm him emptiness but us one of the film’s funniest moments.
You can look at Her in several ways, humans disconnection with each other and an existential story to fulfil or the fact technology has improved to such a level it been part of our daily lives for a while now. This doesn’t look as peculiar premise as first thought as we now telephone, email, meet new people, cybersex, the internet is even designing adverts, websites around your previous use .Her is not exactly HG Wells Things To Come but more Things That Have Came.
Filmed mostly around the business districts of Los Angeles even Shanghai China we get an aesthetic that delivers a backdrop that’s simple by design, clean and beautifully constructed. Washed by a palette of pastel colours, it feels as if what we see is more how people perceived the future to be, neither dystopian more a neo-futurist vision as through the decades the 1940’s,1950’s,1960’s even 1970s (Logan’s Run, THX1138). Her is like a futuristic world full of Gap fashionistas living in one big Apple Store.
Her is today’s Electric Dreams, an expressive, whimsical at times a film that asks us to question our basic right for companionship but have we really abandoned traditional means of communicating for something merely artificial ? Her could be that cautionary tale intertwined with a heartfelt love story that will have film hipsters drooling others confused. Spike Jonze delivered so much at the beginning but by the end we’re left asking more questions as things ran out of steam.
★★★ | Paul Devine
Drama, Romance, Sci-fi | USA, 2013 |15 | 14th February 2014 (UK) | EFD Films | Dir Spike Jonze | Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Chris Pratt