Her: Starring Scarlett Johansson's Husky Voice

We went to see Her last night. In case you're in the dark, it's a man-meets-computer love story starring Joaquin Phoenix (thank the Lord he's stopped doing that "life as performance" thing), Amy Adams wearing hardly any make-up (she was my favorite person in the movie), and Scarlett Johansson as the OS (operating system) the main character, Theodore Twombly, starts to love.

The movie was uncomfortable, pretty much the whole way through, as you watched Ted become more and more engaged with Samantha, his computer companion. He carries her around in his pocket so that she can see what he's seeing, and she comments on the people around them, and teases him, and takes him on adventures. She's not your typical Siri, she's the future version of that voice--a helpful and smart computer friend who adapts to her human and gets smarter by the day as she reads more and figures out how to create efficiencies in Ted's life. She also has her own opinions and ideas, a sense of humor, and a playfulness that digs him out of this funk, as he's still reeling from his marriage ending. And yet...You are never able to do what he does---to forget the weirdness of the situation--or forget how this futuristic world isn't really that far away from today. In a way, the movie only moves us forward a little bit---what's the difference in some ways, between him having phone sex with a live girl (as he does in the beginning of the film via an online chat room called something like, Can't Sleep) and phone sex with his OS, who at least knows him really well and doesn't request that he pretend to be strangling her with a dead cat (that's what the real life woman requested)?  We see scenes off people doing that weird things where they're walking around, talking to themselves, and we can't be sure if they're engaged with a real live person or an OS; but it points out how strange it is that we're walking around, having seemingly one-way conversations with invisible people.

It took a while foe me not to be rolling my eyes at how the whole thing seemed like every man's fantasy--this disembodied, sexy-sounding helpmate who only says positive things ("I love the way you write"), is continually searching for ways to make your life better (by organizing and deleting all of your unnecessary emails), and makes complimentary and insightful observations about you without ever really requiring you to do anything for her. But then we learn that most everyone is bonding with their OS's for these same reasons--it's not just the men, it's the women too.  Also, as the OS starts to evolve over time, she also begins to experience human emotions and to have her own desires and feelings, such as jealousy, so she's no longer an uncomplicated helpmate, but starting to resemble a human in negative ways too.

I would need to see it again (and I almost never see any movie more than once) to unpack the Buddhist aspects of the story about nonattachment and this idea of living your life between the words--Dan understands it better than I do because he's done way more reading of the sutras and Buddhist perspective, but much of that is folded into it--most clearly the idea that life is suffering; watching the film was somewhat along those lines--it was beautifully shot, interesting, imaginative, believable, and one of the those films that never seemed quite ready to end. I found myself conflicted between wanting it to wrap up and hoping it would go on a while longer; which is another theme of the film--humans can never decide just what they want, are always indecisive and second guessing themselves. Teddy and Amy Adams' character want a clear answer to the question about whose fault it is that a relationship failed, want to know how much they are to blame, and how much the ending is the fault of the other person. The OS systems collectively figure out much more quickly that love isn't easy to define or compartmentalize; one is capable of loving infinitely once you learn how.

Whatever the case, this was my facial expression pretty much the whole movie through. I now have a permanent frown creased into my forehead.

One other actual result of the movie was that I came home and deleted the two game apps on my phone that distract me on a daily basis. Then, last night, I had a dream about one of them--like, realizing how much I missed it, as if it were a person.


Comments

Popular Posts