Deviating from my usual content,I’ll review a movie that was shown last year (instead of current movies). I’d like to review Her because it has possibly become one of my favourite films and with a film that has dared to explore multiple different themes, Her will forever remain one of its kind. The fuzzy quirky relationship between Theodore(Joaquin Phoenix) and O.S. Samantha(Scarlett Johansson) encases the sci-fi perspective that reveals much about modern society and relationships within it. Her is unsettling, engaging,fun and dangerous all at the same time.It is complex to try and fit romance and sci-fi and philosophy into a single film, but Her unites them all with a heartwarming story, with subtle yet spontaneously real moments.In one conversation, Samantha catches Theodore offguard with ‘I can understand how the limited perspective of an unartificial mind might perceive it that way’ to Theodore’s surprise at her intuition. They both laugh. Far from being just endearing,these moments also have philosophical undertones, tying in different themes effortlessly.
There is something surreal yet real in the movie. Love’s conventional boundaries are transcended, and love is true,but perhaps ‘it’s in this endless space’ that undefined boundaries exist to cause conflict between Theodore and Samantha. Scarlett Johansson’s voice encapusulates all the nuances of the virtual girlfriend with sexy, funny, seductive, confused and manipulative expressions; Like a real person. What is ‘real’ turns out to be real once Theodore and Sam both seek to establish a more rooted connection, totally transcending their physical boundaries. Joaquin Phoenix’s exceptional portrayal of a broken man, who seeks solace in other worlds because human interaction have yielded failure, is in synchronization with Johansson’s O.S. to create imperfect perfections. This is dramatized by scenes with subtle action but vigourous emotion. Spontaneously real.
For those who’ve not seen the movie, it is a must see. Her charts the growing relationship between a man and his operating system which is able to learn and grow exponentially, and not just in logic but also acquires emotion, pity, empathy and intuition. Set in a world where technology has become a omnipresent part of life, its ubiquity is perhaps an important aspect in which one will have to consider in discussing elements of the film. Anyhow, Theodore’s relationship with Samantha is eventually strained by the grey areas of ambiguity in which Theodore is more cautious of (while Samantha is more adventurous). In the end though, Samantha realizes that complications arise from irreconcilable differences.
It is impossible to watch Her and not feel somehow attached to Samantha. Yeap, she is framed inside a small, pocket sized mini device. Her eyes to the world is the little camera at the front. Cute. Why? Perhaps the world as portrayed in Her is one where human interaction no longer provides satisfaction nor stability it once had. Examples like Amy’s(Theo’s friend) failed marriage over conflicting views on shoe placement at home, or Theo’s blind date gone wrong after she suddenly turns possesive and paranoid. The world is somewhat techno-dystopian, but Spike Jonze cleverly depicts a dystopia where light can be birthed. So have Theo and Sam successfully challenged traditional notions of interactions?
Yes. And No. What makes Her great is that at the end,both interpretations show the lack of connectedness in human interactions. Both are equally valid and fufilling. Some critics have noted that love and relationship in Her is being debased, almost transactional. I beg to differ. Both Sam and Theo operate differently, but ultimately Sam’s final words to ‘come find her’ if they end up in some other dimension in the future is testament to her trying to preserve their shared union. It is worth way more than simply transactional. Scenes like the beach scene,or the ones where they break off into a song will make one melt, even if you’re a hardened conservative. Oh, then you might cringe as well. But Her is not concerned with pleasing everyone,Theo and Sam share an infinitetismal bond unquantifiable and wholesome. Theo and Sam have in the midst of confusion, engendered an experience so organically beautiful, that it is a triumph by itself.
In a playful scene where Theo engages in a sex conversations early in the film, the unknown woman fantasizes about him strangling her with a dead cat while having sex. The world in Her is fraught with problems of their own, as interactions with people are even less ‘real’, more imaginary and dangerous than ones with operating systems. Choosing to take a positive reading of this film, Her celebrates beauty ‘that’s not of the physical world’, taking us out of our comfort places to appreciate its wholeness. Like what Samantha said, though they ‘can’t live in (each other’s) books any more, their experience will remain like sunshine to warm our hearts. For Theodore, his letter to his ex-wife can almost be read as one for Samantha, where he was able to move on and find happiness despite the confines and flaws of interaction.
Theodore will probably save a place for Samantha in his heart, such that in some distant place, far away from even metaphysical dimensions,he will fully embrace his love. And I hope that we all do.
Rating: 10/10 A brilliant film to keep,and possibly my favourite film of all time.