Sunday, January 19, 2014

Believable look at love in the future

Spike Jonze’s Her is interesting from the POV that so much of its subject matter is relevant to the present. Theodore Twombley’s (Joaquin Phoenix) world is set slightly in the future where instead of play station screens your living room becomes a hologram, and where you advise your computer through ear buds to check email and what’s trending on your favourite websites. Not a stretch - people talk into their Bluetooth today. Socially the values of the present seem very much the same, with talk denigrating carbs and Theodore complimented for his metrosexual (i.e., female) values. Los Angeles also is dominated by Asians to such an extent that English takes second place on signs. But other things don’t seem so real. The cityscape looks like Shanghai, an agglomeration of alienating high rises and unlimited concrete. I thought we were moving to a more decentralized and “green” world. This is a trap filmmakers fall into. Jonze didn’t have to use skyscrapers to reinforce anomie. But where the movie excels is the story line and superb acting. Phoenix is a standout as usual. And Scarlett Johansson as the disembodied computer voice is as real as if you could see her on screen, which is the point. Twombley falls in love with Samantha, the voice of his new operating system. (Get ready for the future, folks, when software will have enough intelligence to mimic real persons with thoughts and feelings.) Twombley, recently divorced, lonely and disconnected, warms to this virtual person who seems to like and understand him. Their love affair is believable. The story takes the present version of dating a few notches further. We can already date through websites and have our first connections by text messaging. And there have always been physical objects to substitute for the real. But Samantha is also jealous and even dispatches a real person Isabella (Portia Doubleday) as a surrogate to improve their relationship. Otherwise she acts exactly like someone in a real love affair with all the sweet talk, sexual sighs, and insecure moments of any paramour. In the end the sadness stems from the fact this object of desire cannot be real. She breaks down and tells Theodore she has 641 lovers just like him. 

No comments:

Post a Comment