May 5, 2014

[Movies] Her (2013)

When people think science fiction, images of the far future with space ships and talking robots are the most common ideas that form. And that's only natural - it's one of the more popular aspects of science fiction that has been a heck of a lot more salable in the public view.

But movies like Her remind us that there's a lot more to science fiction than the speculated high technology of the future. Some of the best science fiction is much closer to home and tries to explore current technologies as we try to imagine how they might develop and evolve. And this movie is a wonderful example of that.

But beyond the science fiction aspect to things, this is a love story, a movie that explores how human emotions also try to adapt to new technologies. And while it's easy to think of some of the aspects of this movie as just being crazy or perhaps even inconceivable. And that's all part of good science fiction - how speculation about the future and about technology can be used as a canvass upon which one can try to figure out new aspects about what it means to be human.

Synopsis: Her is a 2013 science fiction drama written, produced and directed by Spike Jonze. It is the first movie where Jonze wrote the screenplay independently. The movie has already received multiple awards nominations and has won both the Golden Globe and the Oscar for original screenplay.

It is the year 2025 and our central character is Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix). He's a somewhat introverted man who set to divorce his childhood sweetheart once he gets around to signing the papers. He has instead focused his efforts on his job, which involves ghost writing personal letters for other people. But things start to change when he purchases an operating system that is advertised to be a true artificial intelligence. Once installed, the OS names itself Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) and she proceeds to immerse herself into Theodore's life.

At first her intelligence is applied to more basic things - organizing Theodore's files and reminding him of upcoming appointments. But the whole time she converses with Theodore in a highly conversation and pretty much human manner, this she feels more like a very helpful friend instead of being an machine intelligence. And as things progress further, Theodore finds himself developing feelings for this artificial personality and the two start "dating" in a limited sense.

When Samantha first enters the story, things seem simple enough. As viewers we know that it's just Scarlett Johansson reading lines off of a script. The highly conversational nature of her role makes it theoretically easy, but to be fair there are aspects of the dialog that still hint at her being an OS despite how human she sounds. Plus the fact that she needs to convey all emotions tied to her responses just using her voice. So when you get past your disbelief over the premise, then the implications of her function and perhaps her greater purpose in this reality truly sinks in.

Joaquin Phoenix does an admirable job in this movie. He manages to convey the complexity of this man who somehow falls in love with an artificial personality "living" inside a computer. But the progression is demonstrated in a beautiful manner with Phoenix at the center of it all. Given how some folks would fall in love through penpal letters or even just chatting online, becoming emotionally involved with this compelling voice who acts like a near-constant voice in your head doesn't seem all that far-fetched.

Greater credit has to go to Jonze who pretty much built this world from the ground up. Whether you love the dialog or how the various scenes were put together, it's all him, really. But beyond the beauty of the piece, the movie does in fact explore various concept that have been tackled in other science fiction works before. And to see them all here in a single movie and done in a manner that was both logical and compelling was just brilliant, really. I was very impressed.

Her is not your typical love story, but it's one that is no less real or believable than any other work of fiction. It's a movie that could reveal new truths about people in general or perhaps even about yourself. Thus the movie rates a well-deserved 5 brilliant applications of technology in this movie out of a possible 5.

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment