Her (Spike Jonze, 2013)

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Her, directed by Spike Jonze (2013).

Score: when love is beyond judgement.

Twenty minutes into the future, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is an awkward, lonely man trying to get over his divorce. Theodore is a very sensitive man who makes a living writing personal letters for other people in a company that’s a bit of an evolution of greeting card manufacturers. One day, a software company releases an operative system equipped with artificial intelligence. Theodore’s instance of the OS (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) gives herself the name Samantha and starts by helping him sort through his email and computer files. Soon they start having personal conversations, and as Samantha grows more intelligent and eventually reaches sapience, they start a romantic relationship that centres the whole plot.

When I started watching I was worried that the theme behind the movie was “technology is dehumanizing us, fire is scary and Thomas Edison was a witch” but I was glad to find out this movie is the exact opposite. If you’ve ever had a shameful kink or been in an unconventional relationship, this movie understands and accepts you. Love is love and in the end life is too short to be worried about what other people think about life choices that only affect you.

The movie works on two different levels. It is a science-fiction movie through and through as it depicts people interacting with true artificial intelligences. It focuses on the sentimental and romantic side, which has been rarely explored, as far as I know. There are some moments of doubt in the beginning when it’s still not clear what Samantha is, where Theodore might have been an evolved version of these people who say please and thank you to Cortana, but once it’s clear that Samantha is sapient we’re on a whole new ground.

On a different level, Her is also a love story like many others. Theodore is having a relationship that is more or less frowned upon or unconventional. On this level of the story, Samantha could have been transsexual, disabled, ex-convict, from another ethnicity, you name it, and the story would be pretty much unchanged. He has to examine his feelings and his situation and finally embrace that maybe he’s not sure what he’s doing or how the story’s going to end but when all is said and done it makes him happy and that’s all that matters. This is what’s so beautiful and soothing about this movie: it’s all about acceptance. Acceptance of the different, of the unknown. A call to listening to your heart and doing what makes you happy.

Phoenix and Johansson are great in this. There is no Commodus or Johnny Cash in Phoenix. He’s just soft, melancholic, vulnerable. He’s a sad and awkward little man who falls in love again. As for Johansson, she’s remarkably expressive bearing in mind she can’t use the help of facial expressions or body language.

Watch this movie, it will make your day better and warm your heart. And if we could all accept that people love who they love, the world would be a better place.

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