Spike Jonze’s groundbreaking 2013 film tackled the sci-fi genre in a new-aged way. What makes this film so pragmatic is Jonze’s depiction of the subsequent future of Los Angeles, tied in with familiarity involving today’s technology and generation.
Dealing with much more candid themes than the sci-fi genre is normally accustomed to, we follow a heartbroken writer named Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), who falls in love with his personal operating system Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson).
Theodore works for a company that commissions him to compose love letters. Love letters for people who are too busy or lazy to do it themselves. Using his own insecurities and loneliness, he pours his desires into the letters, loving vicariously as an intermediary for others. Recently divorced, he perilously explores for a connection through phone sex and video games – That is, until he meets Samantha, or to be more specific, downloads her.
The love story that gradually unfolds is one of an unorthodox structure. Samantha is not a physical being, but is a being in Theodore’s earpiece, handheld, and in his mind. He carries her in his shirt pocket, so Samantha’s camera-eye can peek out and see the world. Her voice is the first and last thing he hears every day. They have what could only be described as auditory sex. Over time, Samantha grows and learns, encountering self-hood, discovering her own wants, whilst finally maturing at a warped speed in a way that Theodore cannot.
Her shows a synchronicity between humans and artificial intelligence. As a species, our technological presence and identity has become far too eminent, naturally giving our technology human attributes. Samantha can easily be seen as a sexy and higher functioning version of Siri or Alexa.
So often prior, directors in the sci-fi genre have loved providing us with alien infested versions of the future. Rather than offering escapism, Jonze’s new take on love and A.I forces us to confront the looming possibilities of the years to come. As new technologies continue to enter our lives and the boundary between reality and virtual reality becomes ever more tenuous… we would do well to remember a great lesson of cinema. Having come from Her in particular, and that is, what appears to be fake can still yield truth.
Choosing to invite pastel tones and purposely removing blue from the palate, ridding the film of clichés, and a white washed dystopia – Really helps you feel immersed in a futuristic high-tech world. The aesthetic is surprisingly retro with it’s wooden and homely furniture and all it’s woolen, high-waisted pants.
The phone-like handheld Samantha resides in is smooth and elegant as well. Making this film remarkably realistic with Jonze’s illustration of a not-so far away future Los Angeles. Because of this films intimacy with technology and our generation, it is a production worth being called a hipster masterpiece.
By Kate Foran with Amanda Nova