Aside from Scarlett Johansson doing nothing but voice acting (for reasons I initially didn’t know about), I’ve heard some good buzz about ‘Her’ without actually explaining what the movie was about. I didn’t even immediately learn it was from Spike Jonze until after the credits. But there was enough talk about it that I asked my friend Ron that we watch it when he suggested a movie night.
Some time in the future, programmers were about to develop the first artifical intelligence operating system. Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a man who writes personal letters for other people but dealing with the dissolution of his marriage, installs the AI OS which called herself Samantha.
A grieving man living alone interacting with a personable AI with the voice of Scarlett Johansson will eventually evolve into a very interesting relationship.
When I described the premise to Spike, another friend, his reaction was “kind of like Chobits?” Yes, it’s kind of like Chobits without the Persocom body. The exploration of human relationships with artificial intelligence is explored beautifully in ‘Her’, showing the various complications that can arise in such a setup. In particular, the movie attempts to show what can happen if we enforce traditional ideas on how a relationship ‘should be’ to a totally novel setup.
Contrasting Theo and Samantha’s story are some subtle commentaries on how human interaction has degraded because of technology: In the future, people hire other people to write personal letters. People are often more involved with their personal gadgets to notice other people in the streets. Technology has altered how humans relate (or not) to each other, and yet humans still insist on certain old-fashioned expectations with their romantic partners.
Of course, ‘Her’ isn’t really showing how we humans could be in the future. It’s showing how we humans are like right now.
Stepping back from the story, Ron and I were impressed by the production design and retro appeal of the 1960s-inspired costumes. Daylight scenes, especially those outdoors, are typically bathed in golden light. It’s a shame how most people in the movie aren’t paying attention to how pretty the future is.
‘Her’ isn’t a date movie. It might not be good for someone who is reeling from an ended relationship (my curiosity bit me in the ass here). It is not for the naively romantic. ‘Her’ is a movie for someone who has experienced the bittersweet complexities of love and has realized how, oftentimes, the most meaningful love stories will have to end.
Don’t mind that last paragraph. Go watch it if you can.