Her: There is room for humanity in the future’s technology

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Daniel Davila

A USC graduate from the School of Cinematic Arts, currently located in Los Angeles trying to do the "real world industry" thing.

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Is Spike Jonze just my favorite director now?

Spike Jonze’s Her takes place in the not-so-distant future of Los Angeles, and is envisioned in a style of ‘what if cell phone companies designed the world’? Everything from the colors to the faux-authentic wood and technologies screams Apple and HTC.

But Her is not interested in showing you some consumer driven wasteland. The future envisioned is almost a utopia of technology bringing people closer together. The film’s aesthetics are light and beautiful and the future tech only helps to emphasize the themes.

Sometimes I fantasize about being a film teacher at a high school, or a professor for the 101 classes, teaching the basics and helping the students to go from film literacy to analysis. Her is one such film that aids my fantasies. As a whole it is extremely cohesive and meticulously put together. There are no glaring leaps and no confusing additions. Her flows smoothly with its constant and intense close ups, use of colors and evocative music.

2013-12-17-her

The main plot point of Her is that our protagonist, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), falls in love with his AI operating system, Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). Just from this simple pitch you can envision a multitude of ways to go with the story, but it is the plots simple direction that really impressed me. Our characters’ goals are straightforward: they want to be in a genuine relationship together. Their obstacles are simple: themselves and each other. Her brings you to the theater with its interesting logline and makes you stay there with its sincere love story.

It’s heavily implied that Samantha is dealing with the problems of moving from artificial intelligence to true sentience. Instead of exploring how digital consciousnesses affects the world in its entirety, which is an entirely different and interesting story, the film remains firmly focused on Theodore’s and Samantha’s relationship. The film’s goal of intimacy is easily achieved.

And it’s so honest. Every fight, every stumble between Theodore and Samantha were relatable to relationships in real life. After the film ended I had to fight back tears in my car before immediately going to eat a burger and fries in a cozy diner. The movie left me needing comfort food and dealing with real emotions.

It’s not a perfect film of course. Some dialogue is a teensy bit unbelievable, and some scenes drag on a little too slowly. The ending is clearly foreshadowed but somehow still comes on too suddenly? These pacing issues are nitpicks and easily overlooked.

The film is a love letter to online relationships, platonic or not. Theodore and Samantha’s only method of communicating is through talking, immediately bringing up visceral memories of friendships forged through online chatrooms and instant messaging services. Humans crave contact, and you will make contact with this movie.

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