‘Her’ is uncomfortable, ‘painfully relevant’

By: Laney Gibson – Chief A&E Writer

Surprisingly eye opening and relevant, Spike Jonze’s new film “Her” provides a glimpse into an alternate future of human and technology relationships that seems entirely plausible.

In an extremely technology driven age, the film “Her” has spiked the interest of many young people, especially those who, like myself, are ridiculously addicted to their smart phones. I watched the trailer for the film on my iPhone, while I furiously texted a significant portion of my friends, checked Facebook and generally ignored actual human interaction. I did not realize the irony of the situation until much later, when I saw the movie.

Like other films that reflect “close to home” issues of the present day, I was very interested in “Her” because I can, on some level, relate. No, I have never had an in-depth conversation with my computer, or grown a moustache like Joaquin Phoenix sports, but I have found, like many others my age, that it is uncomfortably hard to put any of my gadgets down.

The film is a melancholy comedy set in the arguably near future that focuses on a socially isolated and seemingly depressed middle-aged male, Theodore (Phoenix), who is still grieving the divorce of his ex-wife, Catherine (Rooney Mara). His job consists of writing other people’s love letters, which seems to be his only form of emotional expression.

He downloads a new operating system that provides a false intelligence that can interact with the user. Slowly, Theodore falls in love with the OS system, Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson, providing the backdrop for exploration of modern day human relationships.

Beginning by showing the daily life of the main character, “Her” has a certain significant quality of eerie relevance.
Theodore leads an introspective existence, rarely interacting with others and going home nightly to play a 3D adventure game alone. In these beginning moments there is surprising comedy that elicited an almost uncomfortable laughter from the audience, such as a cyber sex scene featuring the voice of Kirstin Wiig. She asks Theodore to strangle her with a dead cat.

The film showcases the loneliness of humans in a manner that almost makes the movie difficult to watch. Crafted gently by the director, the revelations about humans and technology are not overly done. Small details show the detachment of all the people in the film, as Theodore and Samantha grow closer and fall in love, more people in the background are speaking not to others, but to their phones.

The general need of most humans to find some sort of meaning and connection to each other is evident. Uncomfortable similarities between our current technology-driven state and the supposed future of the film make “Her” painfully relatable, and even sadder. The characters in the film are so expertly developed, it is difficult not to grow concerned for our own generation and feel more compassion for others, because the film provides a quiet look at the different types of loneliness people can face.

Despite the occasional creepiness of the sexual interactions of the film and some cringe-worthy testaments (“We’re only here briefly. And while we’re here, I want to allow myself joy.”), “Her” is a beautiful little film that reveals a portion of the human condition that is more relevant than ever today.

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