Everyone, if not most everyone, would admit that our advancements in compute technology has great benefits as well as sour disadvantages. We live in an information age that is totally limitless. Words like Google and friend are used as verbs more than nouns, nearly all of us(except yours’ truly) has some type of cell phone, ipad or ipod, and texting seems to have become a new national past time. We in America, literally live our lives online every single day.
As you continue to watch the movie “Her”, your reactions may shift from funny to frightening when it comes to computers and machines, and then somehow meld together. Set “slightly” in the future, the film takes us into the somber world of Theodore Twombley (Joaquin Phoenix) a sort of surrogate writer of personal letters. While you realize his ability to compose the most exquisite messages for other people is superb, you also see that his own life could use some encouraging missives. Especially since he’s always trying to balance his time between playing video games and reminiscing about a marriage gone wrong, eventually resulting in a soon to be divorce.
Abject loneliness is seemingly his trademark, except for brief encounters with other co-workers – until he meets Samantha. Seductively voiced by the beautiful Scarlett Johansson, she (or it depending entirely on one’s point of view) is the latest thing in operating system technology. Twombley decides to take advantage of this new Artificial Intelligence, encouraged by the ad’s assurance that it will have a personality and will understand you. Seems like a perfect “relationship” he can totally deal with.
Many men who see Her will surely be imagining the unlikelihood of Scarlett miraculously materializing from inside a laptop or cell phone. As with all her previous performances, she imparts much depth to Samantha, so much that you’re certain she’s not just a voice inside a machine. But She is. The kicker is, emotionally, she’s all “human.” She’s intelligent, informative, funny and sometimes very nosy.
Phoenix’s Twombley tolerates the nosiness with a proverbial grain of salt, while still enjoying the surrealness of having deep conversations with a machine that doesn’t “behave” like one. His only other distractions , besides his video games, are co-workers Amy and Charles (Amy Adams and Matt Letscher). He even manages to leave his rigid comfort zone and go out on a date.
Scarlett Johannson is undeniably, the ideal voice for the OS1 systems Samantha. Even off screen you experience a near material prescence of her simply by vocal emotions. Her “relationship” with Theodore grows more and more fascinating as they continue to talk and get to know one another. Even getting to a point where she experiences one emotion that will definitely make your mouth drop through the floor.
Her’s supporting characters, due to director/scribe Spike Jonze’s apparent resolve to keep our two main individuals in the limelight, have little to say or do. He does make sure however that they are no less important and demand your attention. Chris Pratt’s Paul is a friendly receptionist offering up encouraging comments to Theodore. Rooney Mara has an incisive turn as Theodore’s soon-to-be ex wife Catherine. Tron Legacy’s Olivia Wilde plays an appealing blind date who is not afraid to express her true feelings about Theodore. And Amy Adams, despite some problems she’s having, is still easy for Theodore to talk to.
All sci-fi fans know there’s really nothing new about computers being blessed (or cursed) with human emotions and behavior. Tinsel Town has been doing it for years. Notwithstanding, Her takes online “relationships” to such a jarring level, you will seriously wonder where our society is going regarding our ubiquitous home and hand held devices.