This isn’t really a review so much as a few jumbled thoughts I put together about a film that moved me. It contains spoilers so if you don’t want to know too much detail, hop along! 😉
Tonight I watched ‘Her’, the movie directed by Spike Jonze about a man called Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his Operating System, ‘Samantha’ (Scarlett Johanssen). The film is a futuristic play on the way we as a society are increasingly starting to experience our relationships as something far removed from reality. As implausible as it might sound, Theodore does have in real terms many elements of a relationship as is ‘normally’ experienced, i.e with another actual person who exists in our day-to-day lives. His emotional needs are met; they have virtual ‘dates’ and are able to share much of their lives together. And Samantha also happens to take care of the practical side of his life too. She organizes and manages Theodore’s emails, contacts and calendar. She remembers his family and friends’ birthdays, buys them gifts and even interacts with each of them in the funny, affectionate way that you might expect from a loveable girlfriend. As time goes on however, Samantha evolves past her programming to become a self-conscious entity who, having been taught how to feel human emotions by Theodore, becomes ‘super-conscious’ with the help of other OSs, and she reaches a point where she is no longer able to relate at a comfortable or even possible speed to that limited by Theodore’s innate humanness.
This was a sad and heartwarming movie that says much about how new technology is changing our relationships, as well as incorporating the elements of relationships as we currently know them, where people change and grow at different speeds; where we learn from and in turn teach our partners about our perspective on the world, and how we require our basic human needs to be met. How many of us can be honest and admit how much of our lives is spent looking out for that little green dot that shows whether someone is ‘active now’, or when they were last online? How often do we see status updates that are seemingly written for no one in particular but are clearly aimed at only one person with whom we’re scared to communicate directly? And how much more difficult is it to let go of someone who is wrong for us when we have access to so much live and up-to-date information about them online? Our behaviour on any number of social networks and dating sites can easily be interpreted in a number of ways, and this film begs the question: how much of what we feel is based on a complete fantasy?
With touching performances from Phoenix and Johanssen, as well as a scarily plausible picture painted by Jonze of how we might conduct our romantic lives in the future, this film is a must-watch.