By Matt Laroe (New York)


Every so often, a film comes about that perfectly fits the time that we’re living in. It finds a way to define an era by only exposing us to a small group of people in one location at one particular time. The makers of these films tell us how things are and often how things are going to be in the future. Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Where the Wild Things Are) provides us with an in depth look on our time in our current age of information and how technology has become such an essential part of our existence with Her.

Her takes place in Los Angeles in a not-so-distant future where we witness technological advances that while we find amazing, don’t seem out of the realm of possibility based on what we have accomplished currently. Theodore (an ever so melancholy Joaquin Phoenix) is a lonely personal card writer who is still recovering from the end of his relationship with his wife (Rooney Mara). He is mostly anti-social, outside of a relationship with an old friend (Amy Adams), and he takes up most of his time with video games and using his operating system to contact others for the most futuristic phone sex ever put on screen.

Theodore purchases a new operating system that is special because it comes implanted with the ability of intuition and somehow has the ability to evolve as humans do over time to match the personality of one who purchases the OS. Theodore is then introduced to his new self-named OS Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) who is perky, funny, and a breath of fresh air that Theodore quickly connects with. Johannson is never seen on screen but she really steals the film as Samantha. Her unique voice is able to express so many different emotions that we feel she is right on screen with us instead of in Theodore’s ear or in his pocket.

As we watch the “relationship” between Theodore and Samantha develop, it takes us on a roller coaster ride over what we believe can be possible or impossible between a man and a machine. We go into the film with the idea of a man and a computer in a relationship sounds preposterous at first, but as we watch these two connect and communicate with one another, we surprise ourselves by starting to get a sense of “well maybe this could be real”.

The fact that we even have those feelings is credit to the excellent writing and direction by Jonze. He makes the seemingly unbelievable, almost believable and not many films dealing with such controversial subject matter can say that. However, you’ll notice I use “almost” believable when describing the story. Yes, that damn “almost” can just ruin it all can’t it? The story is written so well, and the performances are so good (namely Phoenix and Johansson) but the idea that a man and a machine could get so closely connected to the point of calling it love is something very difficult to wrap my head around.

Then again, maybe this story isn’t supposed to be believable. Maybe it’s just supposed to be a well thought out fantasy. It is the fantasy after all, that makes fantasy films so fantastic isn’t it? The film even supports this with stunning visuals and scenes that are filled with popping with bright and vibrant colors that it gives the whole film a feeling of being in a dream like state.

We may just have to take the film for what it is and enjoy the ride as we suspend reality in favor for something that displays how people really have a need to be needed and that often times we turn to artificial alternatives in order to try to fill that void. These alternatives prove to be pleasant distractions, but in the end we need something tangible, an actual physical entity that can feel and experience life and need to need us as much as we need them.

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