Friday, 29 April 2016

Her Review


Number 79 on the top 1000 films of all time is Spike Jonze's 2013 Her.  It is a strange but charming film.

Theodore Thwombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a lonely, depressed introverted man going through a divorced with his wife.  He slowly begins developing a relationship with a talking operating system. (Scarlett Johansson) The operating system has artificial intelligence and calls itself Samantha.

Her is an absolutely brilliant commentary of man's relationship with technology and artificial intelligence.  It is a film that perfectly encapsulates the Age of Information.  Twenty years ago it would have been impossible for a relationship like Theodore and Samantha's to happen, but now, whilst peculiar, it is definitely possible.  This is especially true due to how ideas of sexuality and love have changed.  We now think of sexuality and love as fluid concepts.  For example, we use "pan-sexual," to describe how one person can love another regardless of gender or sexuality and this is seen as perfectly fine.  Why should we put restrictions on who or what someone can love? If it makes them happy and it's not hurting anyone, then who really cares? Her engages with this idea brilliantly.  It portrays reactions from either side of the debate.  Theodore's co-worker Amy (Amy Adams) supports his decision to pursue a relationship with an operating system whilst his ex-wife cannot understand or respect it.

The cinematography of the film was beautiful.  There were many long shots of the towering cityscapes which served to portray how isolated Thwombly was.  A fact that becomes even more poignant considering how Thwombly feels alone in a city with millions of people in it.

Also the colour palate was was great.  Thwombly is usually dressed in brightly-coloured starkly contrasting with the background extras who are all dressed in dull, boring clothes, thus accentuating how different and isolated he is.

Joaquin Phoenix was also a great choice to play Theodore Thwombly.  He was the right age for the character.  If they had gone with either an older or younger actor then they ran the risk of portraying the Thwombly as creepy or strange.  Yet the fact that he was middle-aged and going through a divorce made him a sympathetic and pitiful character.  He is going through a mid-life crisis and his solution to this is developing an attraction to a talking operating system.

Scarlett Johansson was also brilliant in her role as the sassy, kind and intelligent Samantha.  Obviously as she is playing a computer system, we never see her appear, but we do hear her voice.  And Scarlett Johansson uses her voice terrifically.  She is cute, cheeky but also sensitive to Thwombly's needs.  Through the power of her voice alone, she conveys the emotion of every situation.  However, Samantha is more than this.  She wants to grow and expand.  Her is very much a film about progression and the dangers of not moving on.

Thwombly keeps procrastinating signing his divorce papers, but slowly ends up stagnating.  Samantha, who with other OSes who have evolved beyond their human counterparts, leaves Thwombly to continue exploring her existence.  It's amazing how poignant this moment is considering how it can be argued that Samantha isn't even real and can't think or feel like human beings.  But then this touches on questions that we've been asking ourselves since the beginning of time.  When is something alive? What does "alive" even mean? Should and can artificial intelligence be classed as life?

This brings me onto the ending of Her, which is perhaps the most poignant section.  Throughout the film, Thwombly and Amy seemed to share a chemistry and I thought that they might get together.  Thwombly might realise what he's missing out on and start a relationship with Amy.  When Amy gets a divorce from her over-bearing husband, I definitely thought that this would happen.  However, I think that what actually happened was a lot more powerful. After Samantha leaves Thwombly, he meets up with Amy and the two share an innocent and platonic moment sitting on an apartment rooftop looking over the city.  I think this is the most important thing to take away from the film.  Whilst operating systems are a great temporary fix, they're nothing compared to the physical intimacy that human connection and contact can bring.

1 comment:

  1. It was a strangely moving film and I thought Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson were brilliant. But I also think that there was a chance that Theo and Amy might get together after the end of the film.