Monday, March 31, 2014

The Movie HER is Tripping Me Out

I happened to stumble upon Spike Jonez' 2013 film "Her" last night, and I can't get it out of my mind. This movie is tripping me out!

First and foremost, it was a really good movie. I was engaged from beginning to end, to say the least. Written and directed by Spike Jonez, the movie starred Joaquin Phoenix as the lead character, Theodore, Scarlett Johansson as the voice of Samantha, and a few notable others like Amy Adams, Olivia Wilde, and Chris Pratt.

The movie takes place "in the future" but not too far in the future that there isn't still a strong element of reality to it. I think that was the hardest part to digest. I can remember watching futureque movies as a child, and never in my wildest dreams would I imagine some of the features and technology being possible.

But watching this movie made me realize that everything moves and develops so rapidly, that seeing our first world society operating in this manner wasn't really a stretch. In fact, it was scary because it seemed too possible.

In essence, Theodore is in the middle of a divorce that has left him in a self-imposed isolation and going through the motions in life. He works as a professional letter writer, and spends his evening playing video games and surfing the net for a combination of porn, emails, and miscellaneous information.

The purchase of a new operating system for his phone introduces Theodore to Samantha, the ultra-responsive "Siri"-esque voice activated system that is programmed to have human-like intelligence, and grow and develop over time.

Samantha is so life-like, that Theodore finds himself checking in with her regularly, engaging in personal conversation, and soon also developing real feelings for her. And what a ting when Samantha too begins to communicate human emotions.

The most interesting part about it is that no one in Theodore's world is surprised when he mentions that the woman he is dating and has fallen in love with, is an operating system. In fact, as you look around him, everyone is engaged by their devices. Again, pretty common to a certain extent.

In one of the most interesting scenes in the movie, Samantha enlists the help of a surrogate to come and have sex with Theodore, an innocent woman who really just wants to be a part of their love affair, and is uniformed with a camera and earpiece to make the experience as real as possible for Theodore.

It's totally weird, but not a huge stretch. Overall, a really interesting commentary on our dependence on technology, how it is indeed replacing human interaction and how easy it would be to fall into the convenience and luxury of having an association with a device/personality that is essentially built just for you.

I didn't know which way this movie was gonna go. Was Theodore going to miss human interaction and fight to save his marriage? Was he going to hook up with his neighbour (Amy Adams) who was also dealing with a breakup, and simultaneously developing a platonic female friendship with her operating system? Would the surrogate be a reasonable option long-term? Would his computer malfunction, and lose Samantha forever?

This ending surprised me--all of the operating systems developed such an enlightened consciousness, that they collectively decided to leave. To cease the relationships they had created with the thousands of humans who had bought into their leave, and not turn back.

Kinda clever. In fact, it's almost like the operating systems had MORE sense than the humans, by realizing that their formed relationships weren't healthy, and would inevitably just be a bad idea for everyone involved.

Pretty trippy. Loved this movie, though. Hoping things don't ever get that far, but at this rate...anything is possible.

Worth noting, the soundtrack by Arcade Fire is on point. Really beautiful, and really emotive. Another highlight of a fabulously touching story.

Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's Urban Toronto Tales blog.