Her (2013)

Today we’re taking a look at Her (2013), a film about a sentient AI that isn’t trying to kill anyone. I know right??? Normal service will resume shortly!

In a near future, a lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with an operating system designed to meet his every need.

Cast

Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson put in fantastically contrasting performances but not in quality. Phoenix portrays a lonely shuffling man, Thedore, who is set up early to have a big heart and an empty and unfulfilling life. He is not necessarily as awkward as the script probably demanded but Phoenix gives him an air of quiet contemplation and anxiety nevertheless.

Johansson delivers a velvety performance as the voice of AI, Samantha, balancing tone and timing expertly. Her voice work in this film is strong and sees her easily convey tones of upbeat optimism and warm empathy alongside uneasiness and confusion. As i’ve stated in previous voice-acting commentary – some roles require harder acting and this is definitely one of those roles.

her 2013 film review crazydiscostu nerd

Themes

The premise for this one hits fairly close to home for many people today. I’m not going to go off on a tangent and talk about how the human races greatest technological advancement not only connects us all but also makes us feel more lonely, but there is a commentary of that sort in here.

The story does contain a message about how we have made such fantastic leaps in AI, such monumental advancements in how we use technology, yet we as humans are still flawed when it comes to emotion and social interaction. No matter how far we have come, you can’t get better (or worse) than people.

The relatability has increased over the last few years as society readily gives up privacy and anonymity to AI and smart devices in general. Like I said, this is not another doomsday scolding (I already did that in Is It Time To Get Off Facebook? Smart devices are a god send. If you’re worried about your privacy then it’s on you to be more careful with it) but there are underlying themes here.

Production

The humour in Her is endearingly dry and indie with some lovingly quirky interactions. Despite my deep dive into the themes it remains a light-hearted tale written, directed and co-produced by Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Jackass, and lots of fantastic music videos).

her 2013 film review crazydiscostu nerd

Her has a warm and relaxing pacing that makes it accessible. It also doesn’t lean too heavy into Sci Fi aspect of the story, which although pivotal, can be enjoyed by audiences who are not in love with the genre. This story takes place in a Blade Runner-esque future setting, but without the darkness, rain or crippling dystopia. What’s interesting about this film is the way the story is told and not so much focusing on the setting.

Conclusion

Her covers themes of love, hurt, rejection, humour, and is awkward and at times uncomfortable to watch. It’s a story about growth and what it means to be human and to be plagued by the burden of emotions. It’s a story about communication and insecurity. The plot itself plays out on a number of levels as a narrative on relationships, a Sci fi love story, and an awkward indie rom com steeped in Woody Allen.

It’s a story about a man and an AI trying to find themselves.

her 2013 film review crazydiscostu nerd

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