Friday, 21 February 2014

Her (5 Stars)

This is the best film I've seen so far this year. It was released in December in America, two months earlier than in England, so that makes it a 2013 film, the best film of 2013, knocking "World's End" down into second place. It's received five nominations for this year's Academy Awards, including best film. It sincerely deserves to win the best film award, but I expect something dull like "12 Years a Slave" will win. The judges at the Academy Awards are too old to see clearly. "12 Years a Slave" is a film that dwells on the past, "Her" is a film that brings the future close.

Theodore Twombly (played by Joaquin Phoenix) is a man who lives in Los Angeles in the near future. His job is to write letters for people who are unwilling or unable to write their own letters. His speciality is writing love letters when couples are separated. His computer software is very advanced, it even imitates the handwriting of the people he represents. He is a very romantic person, but he has nobody in his own life. He's been separated from his wife for over a year, and from what he says there were problems even while they were together.

He installs a new operating system, OS1, on his computer. It's the first fully configurable operating system with artificial intelligence that adapts itself to its user's needs. The operating system speaks with a woman's voice and calls itself Samantha. In fact, it would be more correct to refer to Samantha as a "she", not an "it". Samantha shows distinctly female traits, becoming first a conversation partner and friend to Theodore, and then his lover. At first he feels like a freak for being in love with a computer operating system, but after a while he finds out that a lot of other people are doing it too. It's become acceptable.

I won't give any more spoilers now. Maybe I'll say more about the plot after I buy it on Blu-ray. By then more of my readers will have seen it. I hope so, anyway. This is only the fourth film that Spike Jonze has directed. Two of the others were films written by Charlie Kaufman, namely "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation". I praised them both because of Charlie Kaufman's screenplay, but after seeing "Her", a film that Spike Jonze wrote himself, I realise that he contributed a lot to those two films.

It's a film about alienation. We see people, not just Theodore, living alone. Rather than social interaction they occupy themselves with videogames and Internet porn. When people are walking in the street nobody is talking to one another; everyone is talking on the phone, maybe to distant friends, or maybe to their phone's operating system, we don't know.

I read that the original version of the film was 60 minutes longer. Seeing the deleted scenes on the Blu-ray will be interesting. Or maybe there will be a Director's Cut. Let's wait and see what happens.

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