Elaine Malone looks at Spike Jonze’s tale of love in an age of artificial intelligence.
Set in the near future in a Los Angeles that has evolved into a high-rise technological utopia, Her is a compelling and melancholy love story for the modern age. There is no whimsy or eyes meeting across or crowded room. Imagine loving an intangible person – never touching or seeing them. Her is a meditation on the realities of social connections forged by the internet without any physical basis. We live in a time where relationships can be formed without ever meeting each other. Spike Jonze’s future (interestingly filmed in contemporary Shanghai) is clean cut and is imbued with efficiency.
Visually beautiful and stylistically retro-futuristic, with an electric soundtrack of Arcade Fire, Karen O and Aphex Twin, the film is astounding.
Theodore Twombly is a letter writer, the hope of the inarticulate. A new technology has been developed, like an updated Siri, artificially intelligent operating systems or OS. They read your emails for you and give you reminders, but they also think for themselves. Her has the potential to be a sci-fi tale of warning, but It’s one the best things I’ve seen in a long time. Although this year’s awards season has had an onslaught of strong films, cinema hasn’t been this exciting in a decade. Jonze doesn’t miss a beat and has truly established himself as an auteur with this film. Visually beautiful and stylistically retro-futuristic, with an electric soundtrack of Arcade Fire, Karen O and Aphex Twin, the film is astounding.
Her’s brilliance lies in its subtlety, and particularly in the performances of Scarlett Johannsen and Joaquin Phoenix. Phoenix is well out of his late brother’s shadow and is in incredible form. He plays Theodore with an understated grace in his emotional turmoil. Her would not be the same without the vocal talents of Scarlett Johansson, who replaced Samantha Morton in the final stages of filming. Usually, the actress relies on sexual presence on screen but in portraying this abstract character she is wonderfully delicate.
Spike Jonze has a small body of cinematic work shows the intensity of his vision. Bringing such an idea to life is wrought with difficulty but Jonze has surpassed his music video notoriety and is flourishing as a credible director There is a sense of cynicism in the film, on one level about the reliance of man on technology in false social networks, and the film also criticizes the nature of love itself. While real relationships fall apart, artificial ones survive. The film looks at love and technology with sincerity and tenderness. Occasionally, self-indulgence takes precedence over necessity, as with the scene featuring a regenerated Alan Watts. However, if you like romantic comedies that don’t make you want to kill yourself, then this is for you.
Her is set for release in Irish cinemas on February 14th.