A grown man falls in love with the Operating System of his phone.Imagine falling in love with the latest version of Android, which just happens to be co-branded with Cadbury, and is called Kit Kat. Now imagine loving Kit Kat like a real person.Thats gotta be ridiculous, right?In the world of Her, the latest film from Spike Jonze, the insanely talented director of Adaptation and Being John Malkovich, the same premise coupled with the genius of the people who collaborated on this film, becomes completely charming and believable.
That Her is set in the immediate future makes it just that much more interesting. Its like taking a guided tour of what Apple may do, say 10 years later.Thats the kind of cinematic time travel that interests me, not looking at the world 300 years hence.This film is a masterpiece of production and costume design, it ravishes the senses from the word go and sustains its mood throughout its formidable 2 hour plus runtime.How I wish Steve Jobs could see this film, he would have hugged the Production Designer( depending on his mood, of course) and said, ”See what I mean, people don’t know what they want, so fuck market research!”
Paradoxically the hero Theodore( Joaquin Phoenix ) is not disconnected with the world, he not a nerd, his profession is that of a letter writer, which is actually an ancient calling.Recently divorced, he is hopelessly lonely.But instead of a mysterious woman, a sleek new Operating System comes into his life. He chooses for it to have a female voice and the OS calls herself Samantha (Scarlett Johansson).Soon she is completely reorganising his life, they are going out on dates, double dates even.There is a brilliant sequence of the physical manifestation of the OS, Samantha sends over a real girl who will help her experience Theodore in a touchy feely way. The girl who turns up says she is intrigued by their relationship and was also looking for love, its just that her idea of it was a ménage à trios.
Scarlett Johansson is a casting coup, we know its her, we know how beautiful she is, and she forms images in our mind as she does in Theodore’s. Her voice makes the whole business of being in love with an Operating System so much more believable.I know many people who would hyperventilate if the Apple OS went down and we understand when Theodore has a panic attack, just like the sinking feeling when we realise that we have left our smart phone in the busy food court.Mr Phoenix is brilliant once again and for the umpteenth time this year, Amy Adams proves how important an actress she is, in what would otherwise be a bit part.
After taking us inside the head of John Malkovich, Mr Jonze creates a new kind of portal this time, into our own new consciousness in a hyper connected world.This film makes you rethink our relationship with our gadgets and realign with the real world.If people can play Candy Crush Saga with an almost religious rapture then its should be possible to fall in love with an OS.What would it be like if you were asked to go on date with your Google Glass?Her locates the beauty of our individuality in the exponentially multiplying DNA soup that is humanity.
This is the way I like my movies, they entertain, challenge and disturb, all at once.The screenplay is slightly dialogue heavy at times but I am not holding it against this film, in fact it almost feels like Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise films to its credit. To me the film shines a light on how fast we have changed in the last 100 years and how mind-boggling is the change coming our way ten years hence. The situation is about to get much worse than a bed full of glowing rectangles!
We all want to be loved, cared for and made to feel special and unique, and a gadget is not the answer to that.Sometimes we are lulled into believing that Google or Wikipedia is the sum total of human knowledge and experience, and forget what organic wisdom and knowledge lives inside us. There is this popular T-shirt graphic which shows us becoming Homo sapiens from apes and then back to an ape like figure hunched over a computer but surely wearable technology with change that.
Watching Her made me think of the last film I saw which had Mr Phoenix in it.His co-star was the formidable Phillip Seymour Hoffman and the film was The Master. If technology could somehow stop the most talented people on the planet from killing themselves, it would be great, wouldn’t it?