“Her”—A Techno Romance
“Her”, a wistful meditation on where we are and where we might be going in the not-too-distant future, is an inspired film by Spike Jonze who questions how technology will connect or disconnect us.
A lonely recently divorced man, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), develops an emotional connection with his newly purchased operating system —OS Samantha (the dulcet, sexy voice of Scarlett Johansson). While Twombly doesn’t understand why his ex-wife (Rooney Mara) fell out of love with him—she accuses him of being emotionally distant— OS Samantha seems to have been engineered to meet his every need. Siri she is not.
Theodore Twombly who suggests “Your past is just a story you tell yourself”, tells himself a fantastical one about his computer. Set in a near-future Los Angeles, Twombly has developed a skill: writing eloquent imaginative letters for strangers — birthday wishes, love notes — but ill-equipped to communicate with real people or even make eye contact (with the exception of one neighbor played by Amy Adams). The strengths and failings of relationships depend on the ability to talk about feelings and for Twombly the only safe environment appears to be with his computer. He soon finds he is not alone in thinking that. While she seems to fulfill his fantasy of a perfect relationship, the more complicated she becomes, the more Twombly pulls away. In this respect, the movie “Her” is like “Ruby Sparks”(see my review, November 11, 2013)—raising the question: If you could have your dream of the perfect partner come true, would that bring you happiness?
One of the most provocative and original movies of 2013, “Her” plays with the future and the interface between humans and their machines as well as the problems and pitfalls of communicating feelings in any relationship. “Her” is part romantic comedy, part sci-fi with the brain teaser that falling in love in a cyber-relationship is not as far-fetched as it would have seemed even five years ago. Enjoy, laugh, and then think about how technology can both alleviate and increase a sense of loneliness!