The film entitled “Her” is a commentary on the present and future use of technology by the average person. It is an intriguing story, albeit a sad one, concerning a soon-to-be divorced man, Theodore, who opts to employ an OS (operating system) to remind him of his upcoming appointments and commitments.
OS (operating system)
Not everyone is aware that Apple has a virtual assistant, named Siri, which you can hire through your iPhone. Therefore, the reality of the situation is that the tale told in “Her” could possibly happen. Joaquin Phoenix, as Theodore, makes this story believable. He is quite taken by the sultry-voiced, highly intelligent Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) with whom he speaks each morning as she reminds him of his imminent obligations for that day.
The setting is Los Angeles, and the time is somewhat in the future, perhaps ten years or so. The stage props - furniture, walls, buildings - have a futuristic look with pink desks and pastel accessories which are not part of today’s décor. Theodore has a job as a letter writer which appears to be quite lucrative from the appearance of his apartment as well as that of his place of employment. It seems that the request for his services comes mostly from a need for a love letter from a lovelorn man or woman. He receives high compliments from fellow workers for his exquisite production.
Joaquin Phoenix (Theodore)
However, Theodore’s own love life is not going well. His wife wants a divorce and he has delayed signing the papers, thinking that the issues might be resolved somehow. Yet, the couple has experienced the stifling nature of a monogamous relationship and cannot revive their initial feelings for each other. His friends try to sign him up for blind dates, but his introverted personality finds comfort in being alone at home. His only companion now is his virtual assistant, Samantha, with whom he communicates more often.
People are slowly beginning to realize that the state of modern human relationships has changed drastically since the onset of Facebook, Twitter, and other online means of communication. Face-to-face relationships are slowly being replaced by the more acceptable idea of stating opinions, receiving advice, ranting and raving, without having to deal with the real presence of another human being. Also, it can be done in your pajamas, if you feel so inclined.
Spike Jonze, the writer and director of “Her,” has hit on a truth which the rest of the world is slow to accept. Technology has produced a phenomenon that we might call collective loneliness. It is seen in the fact that people are not comfortable without their cellphones within reach at all times, to the detriment of their companions who stand by silently while being trumped by a voice coming from a personal device.
Spike Jonze - Director of "Her"
Jonze goes one step further in showing that his character, Theodore, has fallen in love with his OS Samantha, who gives him the solace that no human being has been able to do. The viewer is uncomfortable, if not frightened, knowing that such an occurrence is possible.
This film is original and unique, demonstrating how we have unwittingly isolated ourselves from legitimate human contact. It is a brilliant concept, and one which must be addressed very soon, lest we all fall into the habit of rejecting face-to-face friendships. The idea borders on sci-fi, and yet we cannot term it fictional, knowing our own reactions to the vicissitudes of life.
Spike Jonze won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for “Her,” an honor he richly deserves. The film is highly enjoyable and should produce much discussion among viewers.