Friday, January 24, 2014

Her Movie Review

March is quickly approaching, which means that Academy Awards season is here. This means that there's a lot of Oscar Bait in theaters between December and March. Her (2013) seems like Oscar Bait material; biographies, period dramas, weepy inspirational stories, big name actors, etc. Her wasn't half bad, but I'm not sure it's going to win Best Picture.
Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a lonely man in the final stages of his divorce with his childhood sweetheart Catherine (Rooney Mara). When he's not working as a letter writer, his down time is spent playing video games and occasionally hanging out with his married friends Amy (Amy Adams) and Charles (Matt Letscher). Theodore decides to purchase the new OS1, which is advertised as the world's first artificially intelligent operating system, "It's not just an operating system, it's a consciousness," the ad states. Theodore quickly finds himself drawn in with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), the voice behind his OS1. As they start spending time together they grow closer and closer and eventually find themselves in love. Having fallen in love with his OS, Theodore finds himself dealing with feeling of both great joy and doubt. As an OS, Samantha has powerful intelligence that she uses to help Theodore in ways others hadn't, but how does she help him deal with his inner conflict of being in love with an operating system?
The thing that makes this such Oscar Bait material is that there is a lot of dialogue about life, love, and what it all means; that's a telltale sign. That's not necessarily bad; in fact Her does this quite well. It's an impressive piece of writing. In fact, one of the Academy Awards that Her is up for is Best Writing and I think it's got a very good shot at it. The frequent exposition on love and relationships is thought provoking, poignant, and flows naturally with events in the story. It didn't exactly make me want to run out and fall rapturously in love with someone and appreciate the tender moments in life as other movies have, but it's still a solid piece of writing.
What makes this movie so interesting is the fact that Theodore is falling in love with an incorporeal personality; specifically artificial intelligent software on his computer. This adds a surreal quality to this love story. You don't doubt that Theodore and Samantha are in love, but how can that possibly work out under the best of circumstances? Her does address this and explores the surreal nature of the relationship. There is a "sex" scene which really is just Theodor laying in bed by himself while he and Samantha are describing what each would be doing if they could actually touch one another. It really is a strange and surreal scene. It manages to express what a normal sex scene usually does, that is depict the unity of the two characters, while also drawing lots of attention to how bizarre that unity is.
Her also comments on our "relationship" with our technology today. We are so plugged into our computers, smart phones, and iPads that we are gravitating away from human interaction and connectedness with real people. This is particularly well illustrated as Theodore's job is acting as a ghostwriter for clients. He makes handwritten letters to a recipient, which is printed out, put in an envelope, and mailed off. The idea of literally falling in love with technology is not too much of a stretch of the imagination. Frankly, if Theodore and Samantha were both human doing the same things ,the movie wouldn't be nearly as interesting. But seeing this guy on a date with a disembodied voice who sees through the lens of his cell phone is attention-grabbing. It's one thing to see someone guide a date by the hand to a surprise; it's another thing entirely to see a guy wandering around with his eyes shut and his cell phone out in front of him as a disembodied voice directs him to a surprise.
Her isn't a bad movie. It's got interesting characters, an original concept, some excellent writing, great camera work and direction by Spike Jonze, and a great performances from the cast. Since this is a movie about adults and relationships, there are several adult scenes and adult dialogue. It's all meaningfully implemented, but put me off only as a matter of personal preference. It's still a good solid movie even with the Oscar Bait material. I recommend seeing this if you're not too put off by the adult situations.

Would you date an operating system? What kind of perks might that have? Comment below and tell me why!

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