"Her" Review: Loving Your AI
Spike Jonze offers us a warm visual feast concerning our future relationships. Her is one of those movies that uses AI to look at our lives in this technologically connected world instead of looking at the dangers of Artificial Intelligence. This makes it a rare beauty in the science fiction world.
If the topic is to imagine the immediate future, Spike Jonze is one of the most credible voices to do that. We know him from his visual work with Daft Punk, Weezer, Beastie Boys, Arcade Fire, and Fatboy Slim.
He got his experience through collaborations with Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation and Being John Malkovich and even his creator role in Jackass. Jonze has had his finger on the pulse of social trends for decades by analyzing and creating iconic cultural pieces. That's why everything in Her looks eerily familiar. It is a very near future waiting to happen.
Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a solitary and introverted writer who works in BeautifulHandwrittenLetters.com, writing personal letters to those who cannot express their emotions.
The irony is that while Theodore is incredibly talented at work, in his personal life he's not really good at properly express his feelings. Cause or effect, Theodore is going through a horrible moment in his life, as he's divorcing his childhood sweetheart Catherine (Rooney Mara).
In search of new things, Theodore acquires a new Operative System (OS), whose main interface is a voice with an artificial intelligence technology able to adapt and evolve. After opting for a female voice and a brief Freudian quiz; “How would you describe your relationship with your mother?", Theodore meets Samantha, played flawlessly by Scarlett Johansson.
Slowly and steadily, they will fall in love. Like every love story, it will have different phases. With a lot of experimentation, mistakes, and successes, Samantha and Theodore ultimately will end up being an enormously positive influence on each other's lives.
Romantic relationships are built largely by what one imagines of them. The vulnerability, expectations, confidence about the loved one, depends on--in large measure--our own imagination. Theo, at various levels, knows this mainly because of his own job/talent. That's why his relationship with Samantha is credible.
But as the vast majority of the love stories, a breakdown will be imminent.
Thanks to the engineered nature of Samantha, (and all the OS) of adapting and evolving with a voracious curiosity, it comes the time when her intellectual and emotional expectations transcend not only Theodore but her own limited interface. That's why the OS, together, decide to abandon their current form to continue exploring their existence.
And although this plot twist is a borderline-Deus-Ex-Machina move, Jonze does not develop the idea nor delves into the logic or science behind the OS's decision. It is a necessary one in order to reaffirm that Her is not about hating technology. Samantha is just following her wishes and is incredibly honest about it.
Because Theodore has also evolved as a person thanks to Samantha. Finally, he is able to properly express his own feelings, writing a personal letter to his ex-wife and actively seeking a relationship with his neighbor/friend Amy (Amy Adams).
What's Your Rating For Her?
According to this Jonze's immediate future, the number of people who don't know how to express their emotions is very high. However, far from being pessimistic, this Los Angeles-circa-2030 feels like a logical evolution of our current reality.
Her is not a soft sci-fi with a technophobic approach. Nor is it a corny cautionary tale asking us to drop the phone and look into people's eyes. Her is a love letter to the role of technology in our relationships.
In this era of SMS and social networks, technology has the power to alienate us or enhance us. With its tools, we can fuel isolation or interaction with hundreds of people.
And yes, we can also spend time flirting or seeking sexual and emotional responses from Apple's Siri.
Release Year: 2013
Director(s): Spike Jonze
Writer(s): Spike Jonze
Actors: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Rooney Mara, a.o.
Runtime: 2 hours 6 minutes
© 2019 Sam Shepards