In the movie Her, (Mon 3 – Thu 6 Mar) director Spike Jonze brings to our attention another perspective that might need to be added to the equation of love: artificial intelligence. The protagonist Theodore, who is played by Joaquin Phoenix, is down in the dumps as he goes through the final stages of his divorce. He falls in love with his new operating system OS1 called Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. But how far can a relationship, where distance is permanent, go with just being sustained through voice interactions? Both Phoenix and Johansson play the leading roles perfectly in this new-dimensional romance movie.
Spike Jonze who gave us movies like Being John Malkovich and Where the Wild Things Are takes us yet again into the labyrinth of the human mind and desire, though this time without Charlie Kaufman’s touch it is a lesser labyrinth. Concept-wise, there isn’t a lot of novelty in Her: man in love with computer; making a profession out of writing proxy-letters; human relations being sustained through intuition-enabled technological programmes: these are scenarios already portrayed in various narratives, especially in the world of the non-mainstream anime.
Yet the movie lingers even as credits roll, for me because of its setting. The near-utopia-tipping-into-dystopia Los Angeles, seen through a very Instagram-filter colour schema, is not an over whelming view of a distant future: with flying cars or super-humans, instead it is a credible projection of our lives as we live now. It is a strange case of social withdrawal and morphed narcissism: walking with headphones playing personalized soundtracks of our lives, the obsessive urge to constantly record ourselves in still and video, to touch-screen revolution.
Spike Jonze creates a world we know only too well, so we do not have to suspend our disbelief altogether in this world which is just around the corner.
Her is showing at Warwick Arts Centre until Thu 6 Mar . University of Warwick & Coventry University Student cinema tickets are just £4.