Sun, 24 Sep, 2023

Movie Review: Her

By Umang Gurung

Have you heard of the otaku culture? Otaku are people who love Japanese animation and games. Contrary to popular belief, they are quite sane and harmless. Well, most of them are. There is a section of hard-core otaku fans who hate ‘3D’ or ‘real’ girls and worship ‘2D’ girls. They make ‘2D’ girlfriends, i.e. they play games revolving around that. Creepy? I find it weird. ‘Her’ reminded me of these otaku. If the previous sentence didn’t make sense, ‘Her’ is a movie and it’s not creepy but very amusing. The setting is obviously the near future where we’ve successfully created an artificial intelligence that can think and learn or as the film calls it ‘a consciousness’. Specifically, the first AI operating system has been made and is commercially available. Theodore Twombly (Joaqin Phoenix) buys it and installs it in his computer. After configuring it to his liking, giving it a female voice (Scarlett Johansson), this OS personality comes to life naming itself Samantha. Samantha intrigues Theodore the way new technology intrigues us. She is funny, helps in his work and video games, talks about life and her awareness and thoughts. Theodore begins to see Samantha as a person. He starts to spend more of his time with her than any human and eventually falls for her. The story goes everywhere with this love between a human and an AI. There’s love, craziness, doubts, jealousy, fights and much more. They go on a merry date, take a vacation, make love and try to work out their differences. Theodore does have other relationships with real humans. He’s going through a divorce with his ex-wife (Rooney Mara). Through flashbacks, we know that they used to be quite a couple. This is the reason he acts depressed and lonely in the beginning of the movie. There’s also his supportive friend Amy (Amy Adams), who like him, befriends her OS. The film doesn’t bother with the world it is set in. It does not wish to be sci-fi. We don’t know what is happening elsewhere because the film only focuses on Samantha and Theodore. Most of the story happens in and around Theodore’s apartment and his office. Rather than being limited, it benefits from this focus because we can fill in the gaps. The current progress of technology and our interaction with it points towards this future. Mr. Phoenix does a marvellous job as Theodore. He, as Theodore, is sad but hopeful, common but interesting, troubled but sincere. His interactions with people and Samantha are relatable. You know what Theodore is thinking when he talks with her because you’re thinking the same thing. Scarlett Johansson as Samantha was really unexpected. With only her voice, she gives a phenomenal performance. Even though you know how she’s a human in reality, when she, as Samantha, shows grief of not having a human body or excitement on her experience and exploration of existence, you believe her. You feel her being trapped in the computer. The film was a treat the whole way but the ending didn’t make sense. The film does not give much explanation and what it says is confusing. We get to that end without any warning and the film doesn’t go into detail. While the detail doesn’t matter much, it does feel like something is missing. Sometimes the film feels slow and some sequences slip into the uncanny valley. Depending on the person, one may or may not find them unpleasant. Spike Jonze wrote and directed this film. The screenplay won an Oscar which tells much about him. The look and feel of the film is advanced and unique. With many other films out there being mostly dark and filled with CGI, ‘Her’ stands out with its isolated story and colourful imagery. Films like these are rare which toy with an interesting scenario. It becomes what it wants to be. It answers the questions it set out to. I highly recommended that you watch this film. It will be a unique experience.