Her. Or as my best friend’s mother calls it, She. I cannot believe I am finally talking about this film. It feels like I waited a lifetime to take in it’s fan-conceded glory. But it is also one of those films that I was anxious about, for fear of disappointment, what with all the underground hype and countless online confessions of adoration. I was half the would-kill-to-see, and half the subconscious-avoider. And now, with a feature length of long-awaited experience in the world of Theodore Thwombly, I can safely say that Her is living up to its advocacy in a delayed fashion.
In short, the film follows Theodore, a lonely and introverted guy with a job as a letter writer for ordinary people. His days are fairly monotonous, though he is exceptional in his work. Early on, he buys an operating system (OS) which tailors itself to his personality, assuming a female voice and naming itself Samantha.
First off, technology is weird. By definition, it means the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. I guess, thinking about it, there has always been technology. Each new invention or discovery could count as a new piece of tech. Take fire. When it was discovered, it took time to understand until, eventually, it was utilised for its scientific ability to bring heat and cook food – its practical purpose: an advancement in technology thousands of years before the word was first coined. So maybe technology isn’t as all-round futuristic as it may be imagined. Samantha, an OS with feelings and emotions, doesn’t seem so farfetched. In fact, Jonze conceived the idea after reading an article about Cleverbot, an artificially intelligent web app that can converse with humans. As an audience, we are submerged in this time and place not dissimilar to the Earth today, with a few subtle changes. It feels like the future, but a near-future in reality. No flying cars, hover boards, integration with alien species – just in-reach advances in technology cores that we are all familiar with.
Though, it all seemed surprisingly quiet for a city in the future. We’d expect cities bustling with a further increased population, masses of shoppers and workers and parents and children – like London or New York now, I suppose, but more. It’s like Theodore is living in a microcosm, always carrying this air of solitude. That is until he ‘meets’ Samantha. He is reintroduced to the world, full of people and colours and life, all the while introducing Samantha to this place for the first time. The scene where Theodore is running around with his camera-link to Samantha, rejoicing in her company, is a prime example. The place is brimming with people and a warm glow – the polar opposite to his past mundane life, the pink shirt in the strangely sparse peppering of suit-donned city workers. But, when they grow apart, the intelligence-induced emotional difficulty brought on by Samantha’s learning of the world, things are quiet again, almost cold. Theodore is alone once more.
The film only really got to me after it had mellowed in my head. On immediate viewing, it didn’t feel like 5 star, let alone favourite film material. And it still definitely isn’t in my Top 10. But there are moments, quotes and shots, that stand out, like that quote from The History Boys. Apply it to films and it basically sums up my thoughts on Her.”The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – that you’d thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you’ve never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it’s as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.” I don’t want to simply state all the quotes that got me thinking, but rather encourage you to find them for yourselves. There is an overwhelming focus on thoughts and the power of the mind whirring its way around problems in all the characters. For me to ruin the chance to pick out personally relatable formations of words would be a crime to the art of thinking. For now, here is a gem from Samantha:
“The past is just a story we tell ourselves.”