Love has always been a complex, subjective string of unexplained reactions and counter-reactions that our body has when we interact with another person. Some times it’s confusing, indescribable, inexplicable, and the best feeling you could ever experience. The beauty of it is that it is not limited to people, items, or ideas. It can exist in an ethereal plane. Or it can be a new artificial intelligence operating system called Samantha. Spike Jonze’s Her is not only an examination of modern relationships, but also a look into the evolution of love.
Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is your average writer and introvert who is going through a divorce. He feels alone in a highly technologically saturated world where everyone is connected virtually, but disconnected physically. We are still human and we have mental and emotional needs that need to he fulfilled, so Theodore does the only reasonable thing and buys an A.I. that customizes itself based on his personality. The A.I. is promised to be made to fill the person’s every need. After a few awkward preliminary questions, Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) is born.
If we’ve learned anything about artificial intelligence, it’s that at some point it will evolve and potentially become self-aware. Instead of this leading to death, it leads to new life. Theodore, still struggling from the loss of his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara), is having trouble finding happiness in things that use to bring him joy. Even his friend Amy (Amy Adams), is unable to help break him out of his funk. Samantha, with the optimism and curiosity of a newborn (which she technically is), helps Theodore work through his issues, and their relationship (along with Samantha’s consciousness) evolves to heights never thought possible. Relationships, even ones with A.I.’s, are complicated, and people are not the same as when they started.
The beauty of this film is that even though it is supposed to be set in the not-so-distant future (where we all apparently dress like hipsters), it already resonates so well with modern relationships and their reliance on technology. The topic isn’t a new one, but Spike Jonze presents the idea in a way that doesn’t come off as preachy or judgemental, but instead shows us the acceptance and sentiment that comes with this new form of love. The complexity of each character is made to showcase different forms of love, from the conventional to the most unconventional. It works so well becomes it comes off as a case study or examination instead of a social commentary against love with an artificial being.
Spike Jonze’s films always have a wonderful visual aspect that parallel the beauty of the subject matter, and Her is no exception. Even though Jonze set his film in a futuristic, technologically advanced, science fiction setting, he does it in a way so that it doesn’t distract or draw too much attention to itself. It is presented in a nonchalant and minimal way so that the real focus is on each individual character and their interactions with others. So basically the inverse of what technology does to us on a daily basis. To enhance each moment, the film was elegantly scored by Arcade Fire, with each piece of music perfectly capturing and interpreting each scene. One of the best songs in the film was a bittersweet melody (“The Moon Song”) written by Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who was also on the soundtrack for Jonze’s last film Where The Wild Things Are.
Love takes many forms, whether it is a family member, a significant other, a pet, a favorite object, or even a long distance internet relationship you might be having with a person you’ve never met before. Her shows us that love, in any form, is a pure and wonderful thing, even if it is short-lived. Every love, no matter how long it lasts, is a necessary experience in helping us evolve into a better version of ourselves. Her is a necessary experience that you will also love. It is a beautifully crafted, bittersweet story that will echo with the joys and pains that come from being human.
RATING: ★★★★★★★★★★(10/10 stars)
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