film: Her (Spike Jonze)

spike-jonze-her

The past couple of months have been busy with work and travel, and I’ve not posted anything in here….Oops! I got to work on some cool projects throughout September and a little bit of October, and things are a bit quieter right now. I’ve still got some stuff in the pipeline and recently pitched for a fun project writing about film and TV again. I had to write a test requiring a synopsis of the film Her, by Spike Jonze, which I coincidentally watched earlier in the year and wanted to review anyway. So here goes, I’m sharing the synopsis I wrote.

As a side note that may give you insight on my actual opinion on the film, I really liked Her. It was not exactly fast-paced and it was definitely more serious than comedic, which could turn people off but for me are positives. I loved how the film played with our attachments to digital technology and the walls we put up between each other through our dependance on digital. Though I completely condone dating online through sites like OK Cupid!, as I’ve seen several successful relationships come of such avenues, I also think it’s important to move love lives offline. I can’t tell you how many girlfriends I’ve had who’ve wanted to move their courtships away from Whatsapp and email and got stuck in a web of subtext and vagueness buried in text. Then again, I wouldn’t mind dating a computer compared to some of the losers I’ve met offline….especially if my lover has the same voice as Scarlett Johansson. Or maybe Ryan Gosling would be more my type.

Synopsis: Her

Ever feel like you’ve been dating your computer screen? It seems that’s all we do these days, whether glued to email and updating social media statuses or checking out strangers through a dating site. In his rom-com sci-fi drama Her, Spike Jonze took our attachment to technology a step further and got futuristic with the dating world as we know it.

Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore Twombly, a lonely man living and writing in a Los Angeles set years ahead of our time, where new age modes of transportation and skyscrapers dominate the skyline of the high-tech metropolis. Twombly is in the process of closing a divorce and, in a bid to move on and mend his broken heart, he buys a computer operating system (OS) which boasts a higher level of consciousness. He quickly discovers that this is not just any OS, but a nurturing female one that responds with a mind and opinions of her own, and what follows is a cute and occasionally heartbreaking love story between Twombly and the OS, Samantha.

Playful, charming and intelligent, Samantha is all at once an accommodating voice generated by computer software and the kind of girl some men spend their lives looking for. Sure, she doesn’t have a body and you can’t physically touch and see her, but she’s empathetic and quirky, and Theodore develops an endearing, human connection with what amounts to a machine. Even Twombly’s job is on point with this detached direction of romance — he works for a website that sells love letters, yet another stab at the digitization of human interaction. It helps, of course, that the sultry voice of Samantha is provided by Scarlett Johansson, who is just as disarming without being physically present on-camera.

As Theodore and Samantha get close to each other and he confides in her more, Jonze paints an honest picture of depth and intimacy that rivals offline physical interactions. Twombley even goes on a date and essentially rejects another woman, played by the stunning Olivia Wilde, later retreating to the always-available Samantha. When he tells his ex-wife about her, she’s appalled and convinced that his relationship with a computer is further proof of his lack of real life skills. But Twombley doesn’t budge, and he continues to court the attentions of Samantha, traveling with her and trying to create a physical realm for them by meeting a surrogate human stand-in she recruits.

It’s only when Samantha admits to Twombley that there are others in her life besides him that he realizes his dependence on her and that he needs to detach. Regardless of his attempts at building a world for the two of them, Samantha’s got her own thing going, with unlimited possibilities floating around in an endless cyberspace. She’s tapped into a whole network of intelligence and knowledge that he can’t provide. After all, it’s an infocentric, hyper-virtual reality that is not so extreme that we can deny it’s possibility a few decades from now.

 

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