Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I've completely fallen for Her

Before having kids, my husband and I watched a lot of movies.  We were on a good run, getting every penny's worth out of our Netflix membership.  I binge watched Nurse Jackie and Weeds and ordered every movie Ryan Gosling ever made.  Then I made my way through Christian Bale's famous and obscure films.  I fought with my colleague over what was or was not a great picture (note:  I love Ryan, 
but Drive might be the worst movie ever!). Then along came the baby, and suddenly my money's worth turned into donations.  I cancelled my Netflix account.  I'm lucky to see 9:00 on a Friday night, and I've given up hope of being able to sit through a movie that is longer than 90 minutes--which is never a good one.  Of late, the best I hope for on a Friday night is to make it through two episodes of The Big Bang Theory.  I digress.  He's so dreamy.  

Anyhow, when I think of my top 5 favorite actors, for some reason Joaquin Phoenix doesn't come to mind, maybe because of his little cross over into Crazy Town, but the guy is a phenomenally talented performer.  I absolutely loved him in The Master, though I didn't care that much for the film.  But Her, was a performance worthy of an Oscar if I have ever seen one.  I remember my cousin recommending it last summer--she saw it in the movie theater (fancy girl) when it first came out.  I'd forgotten about it until a friend recently mentioned it again.
The film is brilliant in its quest to define the boundaries of love that human beings will inevitably cross in our relationship with technology.  Here Theodore is at the acme of happiness as he explores the seas with his love, Samantha, his intuitive and personalized operating system (OS), in his front pocket.  The very idea that a man could fall in love with his OS seems to the viewer a bit pathetic and inconceivable, but the story is set at an undefined time in the future where such a relationship has become the norm.  Theodore doesn't hide his love affair, and we learn that several others are engaging in affairs with their own or their friends's operating systems. Society's willingness to accept these intimate relationships with OSes begs the question, what is love?  

There is something so light and honest in the love that Theodore and Samantha have for each other that even the "body" Samantha hires to engage with Theodore on a physical level envies what they share.  The blurred lines between physical and emotional love are the greatest challenge for these two, that and the fact that Samantha is incapable of monogamy, because she's not real.  She's an OS after all.  By design, she serves thousands of users.  So the film poses yet another question, "do we have a claim to what/whom we love simply because we love it?"  Is it possible to be in love with multiple people at once?

Theodore's failed relationship with his ex-wife appears to have robbed him of all joy, joy that he can not find with any other woman.  Why then, does he so quickly and so easily fall for Samantha?  Is it because she is not real or because she feels so real?  Does his love for her make him odd or all the more human?  

I watched this flick over two weeks ago, and I can't stop thinking about it.  Yes, I did fall asleep in the last 20 minutes or so, but not out of boredom and not without a fight.  I had to go back the next day and pick up where I left off, and I was glad to have the time to reflect and process some thoughts before taking in the final scenes.  The ending really touched my heart, though it answered none of the philosophical questions posed.

Spike Jonze gets a big high five for this one.  While it was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, it won only Best Original Screenplay.  I've deemed it the most underrated film of 2013.  The script was beautiful, the acting so impressive, and the setting so ambiguously futuristic that it could be only a few years or a few decades from now.  In a world where Siri has become a common household name, and few of us can detach long enough to have a conversation without interruption from a text message, we can all relate to the confused intimacy that envelops Theodore in his loneliness.  If you haven't seen it, check Her out.

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