It’s been more than a year since the film hit the Indian theaters and somehow I feel like kicking myself for missing it at that time. It was only recently that I had a chance of catching this film which happens to be recommended by a friend after she read my review of ‘Ruby Sparks’ and found a striking similarity to this film in it. Although both these films are so similar yet so different at the same time, and the feeling after watching both the films was, too some extent, mutual. And all these films made me feel so much, to which my last resort to get rid of this tumultuous wave of emotions is to hamper them down to poor readers( i.e. if I have any). So anyways, better late than never, my thoughts on the film ‘Her’.
‘Her’ is a love story of Theodore and Samantha. No, it’s not a story about a relationship of a man with his computer. She is not his computer. She makes it very clear to him. Its is evident when she playfully makes up a robotic voice when he, a little out of habit, addresses ‘her’ like he addresses ‘them’. It is also not a sci-fi film set in a near yet distant future, with Artificially Intelligent Interactive Operating Systems. It’s a part of the film, but it isn’t mainly what the film is about. Also, the film doesn’t make it evident that the setup is based on the near future. The film could be taking place in our own vicinity. Aren’t we somehow dependant over the operating systems in our phones and computers to such an extent that to somehow imagine a life without them seems inevitable. ‘Siri’, ‘Samantha’, it’s all the same. No wait! It’s not! It’s definitely not. I can’t believe I just said that. Sorry Samantha.
I think a fruitful description would be to state this film as a love story between ‘Theodore’, a loner (which includes nearly 95% of the entire population. The rest of them, well, are Honey Singh fans), somebody who works as a writer of digitized handwritten letters and who is currently going through a rough seperation period, and ‘Samantha’, an interactive Operating System who has the same tendency of feeling emotions as that of any other human, and perhaps more than any other human. At first glance, the very thought of a man falling in love with an OS seems lonely and disturbing, but the point is that Samantha is all so interactive and understanding an operating system, that falling in love with her(not it) seems justified. I mean think about it, why is it that somehow having a physical body in it’s own all so important. The whole idea of falling in love with an idea of a person rather than a person itself. Isn’t it why we fall in love with realists like Edward Hopper and Da Vinci? And what is it that Samantha couldn’t do that a human in flesh and blood can. For Samantha can interact with him at all times of the day, help him with his daily chores, provide sexual pleasure, and most importantly could do something that most humans of flesh and blood fail to do. Understand.
Another major question that the film raises is how isn’t being poly-amorous not justified? Samantha loves Theodore the same way she loves many different other users. Why is it that our love is somehow confined to only one person in particular? She is talking to Theodore while also talking to several other people at the same time. Aren’t we somehow lost in so many different voices in our head at the same time?
To a major extent, yes, this film is extremely similar to ‘Ruby Sparks’, with the lead actor, again a writer, going through this melancholic seperation phase in life falls in love with a character he wrote and how she somehow comes to life. But what is mainly different is that the lead character in ‘Ruby Sparks’ could manipulate her partner according to his convenience. And she, being a human, feels the repercussions to it. Samantha, on the other hand, isn’t tied down to love Theodore, she willingly does so.
Another similar film would be, also by Spike Jonze, ‘Being John Malkovich’ in which a portal could allow people to be somebody else for some amount of time. To delve inside their minds for some time and to feel what they’re feeling at that precise moment. It reflects how being somebody else, in this case Broadway actor John Malkovich, has this own zen to it. How we fall in love with with the idea of being another person! A person who seems way more interesting than us.
Spike Jonze’s style of film-making is very similar to that of her ex-spouse Sofia Copolla’s. The film-making is very similar to that of ‘Lost in Translation’, how the filmmakers have this ability to use the effect of light and dark and Chiaroscuro to resonate with the mood, their obsession with neon lights from buildings, streetlights, etc., and the music! Ah! The music. How much has it made me fall in love with ‘Arcade Fire’ and with Karen O’s ‘The moon song’. Also I loved how many intricate colours were used in the film. Almost like a Van Gogh.
‘Her’, if looked from a precautionary angle, somehow shows our sad dependancy on artificial form of love, our reliability on our phones straight from waking us up in the morning to lulling us off to sleep. Is it merely sad that we cannot find love and acceptance in the people around us? But the question is why is falling in love with just an idea of a person not justified? Is it only because it isn’t prevalent? That it isn’t the norm of a society to do so? What if we’re in a society where such form of love is accepted? What then? I think the answer to it lies somewhere in a quote from the movie, which might probably stay with me forever “Love is a socially acceptable form of insanity.”