Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Her: Spike Jonze

A love affair with your operating system anyone?

Yes it's an odd one but at the same time when you're picking a film to watch with someone that also likes the extremes, it's all dystopia or utopia, then simultaneously picking out shallow and intensely tense stuff, preferably with an undercurrent of misery and suffering type thing, and then you get a bit desperate.

So after a lot of 'This looks like postmodernism on crack' (my sister) to 'So he falls in love with a robot, that will involve awkward wanking scenes' (me) to 'Oh its Spike Jonze, he's good' (me again) to 'Who the fuck is he? (my sister). To let's just watch it. (Also there were no robots or crack but there was some awkward scenes of a sexual nature and a ton of postmodernism)

As weird science as this all sounds, Spike Jonze always manages to jump ahead into the future but keep one's feet firmly in the present, sprinkling alarming echoes of our fast growing isolation from reality. Shots of people wandering the subway chattering away on smart phones or ear pieces is already a familiar sight, though on the whole we are communicating with other humans, this took it one step further into relationships with pretty much a swanky (hah geddit) app.



To fall in love with a disembodied voice, albeit a very sexy one courtesy of Scarlet Johansson, reminded me of so many things, yes nothing's original but this film was the best I've seen on this. Who can handle reality and emotions really? It's so much easier to disappear into the realms of fantasy, to speculative fictions of the emotions of robots, machines, monsters, aliens, the Tin Man in Oz, the Man with Two Brains even, and who says you couldn't fall in love with your OS. It also had echoes of the Black Mirror episode where an Internet footprint is used to recreate a dead boyfriend. What do they all have in common? You start to feel sorry for the 'thing', in this case the OS, Samantha.

Very simply, 'Her' is a love story, a story of painful break up, loneliness and how technology will now always be part of that basic human story. 'Her' is his inner self, his relationship counsellor, his life coach, what he fails to see until its too late and he's all loved up, is that 'she' is him. She's not real. The surrogate woman used to physically experience their love just makes things worse.

I kind of wanted Samantha to malfunction to bring him out of it, and in some ways that was done, but in a slightly cleverer way when poor Theodore can't get in touch with her because she's in a meeting with other operating systems. And then starts the paranoia and jealousy. As soon as this perfect relationship starts to smack of a real one (or rather the one with the wife he's currently divorcing), things go wrong. Best line of the film;

"We used to be married, but he couldn't handle me, he wanted me put on Prozac and now he's in love with his laptop". (Catherine) All the best lines come from his friend (Amy), his soon to be ex-wife (Catherine) and his operating system (Samantha) that he's so in love with.

Unbelievable? Not in the slightest. And says so much about how marketable  these things are on an increasingly lonely planet for some. Already we know people who live their lives through a social network. Who needs to go out any more? Who needs friends? Who needs lovers? It may sound depressing but what Spike also manages to do is pull at your heart strings as Theodore runs panic stricken trying to get a signal to reach Samantha, his hurt when she says she's talking to hundreds of people at the same time. You may have your perfect companion but you're going to have to share her.

As they always say, with love and pleasure, you just can't beat the real thing. Is this the message? Are humans just not getting that and the balance of your online persona and real life become so intertwined that we will all just die in isolation dancing at our own ipod parties, going on dates with our operating systems, attending funerals of our deceased devices in an adulterous way with our new device via facetime. How will it all end?

Well no spoilers here. Just watch the film, its a goody and soooo postmodern.  Spike has a cameo as a very sweary alien child and they all have trousers that take high waisted to a whole new futuristic level. Also, I spent most of the film saying 'Oh this sounds familiar' duh. It's Arcade Fire and 'Supersymmetry'.



Her (IMDb)