Her features Great Performances and Provokes with Challenging Questions

24 Jan

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Alright, alright, alright (if you read that in Matthew Mcconaughey’s voice you’re doing the right thing) it’s time for a new blog post! This week’s movie is called Her starring Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson and Amy Adams, directed  by Spike Jonze. Joaquin plays Theodore, a man lonely after separating from his wife. The story takes place in a futuristic L.A. where computers and artificial intelligence are interwoven into our daily lives. Theodore buys an A.I. system which has the ability to grow, learn and adapt, and has its own personality; it is called Samantha ( voiced by Johansson). 

So starts a story which aims to explore the nature of human relationships, and does so admirably. Theodore is a lonely man, a bit socially awkward, but very sweet, sensitive and romantic. Samantha is highly intelligent and knows everything there is to know in theory, but she has a spirit of child like wonder about the world in its reality. Frankly experiencing the world without a body isn’t really experiencing the world very well at all but Theodore tries valiantly to communicate the human experience to her.

I love how this movie paints such a beautiful picture of the value of human connection, the excitement of new relationships, the pain of old relationships burdened with all the wounds that holding someone dear brings, and the general tenuousness of human connection. One of my favorite things that director Spike Jonze has done is to create a fascinating juxtaposition between the bleak loneliness inside Theodore and the bright pastels, the cheerful colours and the general light which composes the film’s landscape. Usually futuristic movies go for a style which is about sleek surfaces, hard angles and metallic colours so it was so refreshing to see this bright and fresh colour palette in this kind of film. 

This movie raises many questions about the concept of a human having an intimate relationship with a machine, whether connection of the mind and spirit can overcome the obstacle of a lack of physical presence, and how people will form an attachment with anything that gives us a sense shared experience, and lessens that feeling of loneliness.

I am sure you will find this film sweet, funny but mainly thought provoking, as I believe that is the central purpose in its design. Though I commend this film on its many strengths, I did find that the plot fell apart a bit in the third act with the inevitable separation of Theodore and Samantha.  However, I think you will find, as I did, that the questions are more important than the answers in this film. 

Next week, in my quest to see all the best picture nominees, I will be reviewing Dallas Buyer’s Club. I have yet to see Philomena and Nebraska. If you are interested, my favorite picture of the year is 12 Years A Slave, which remains one of the most moving films I have ever seen. I couldn’t say whether it will win Best Picture this year though I hope it will. 

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