Entertainment » Movies


by Karin McKie
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday May 14, 2014

Writer and director Spike Jonze's Golden Globe-winning exploration of cyber-love is called "Her," and is "dedicated to our friends James Gandolfini, Harris Savides, Maurice Sendak and Adam Yauch."

Divorcing nebbish Theodore (quietly engaging Joaquin Phoenix, wearing a thick porn mustache and egghead horn-rims) falls in love with his sentient operating system Samantha (huskily voiced by Scarlett Johansson) in a smoggy futuristic L.A. scored by Arcade Fire. Before Her, he can only express his desire for connection via words created for others in his job at BeautifulHandwrittenLetters.com. During their incorporeal courtship, Samantha grows as much as Theodore since she is powered by intuition based on millions of other programs, and, among a myriad of complicated human emotions, learns of "her ability to want."

In this brave new, yet entirely plausible world, hordes in high-waisted nerd pants walk around looking like they're talking to themselves, but are actually engaged in ear bud conversations because they're dating an OS which has achieved "a level of socially acceptable insanity." Despite this high-tech matchmaking, Theodore remains endearingly Luddite as he carries his business card case-sized "bespoke device", propped up by a large safety pin on his front pocket so Samantha can see and share in the rebuilding of his life.

"Are these feelings real, or programming?"

The Blu-ray special features include the long trailer "How do you share your life with somebody" (a Samantha question), and a short slice-of-life set of snippets and music capturing the 41-day shoot, which was completed in fall 2013, called "The Untitled Rick Howard Project" (the film's working title).

Jonze's friend Lance Bangs also created a companion documentary titled "Her: Love in the Modern Age," where he interviewed other filmmakers, musicians, psychologists, writers (including Bret Easton Ellis), and performers such as comedian Marc Maron, who observes that "technology has obliterated boundaries, and made relationships unified and accessible as never before."

In our own boundary-busting age of Facebook, Twitter and Grindr, Samantha's questions are pointed, poignant and prescient: "Are these feelings real, or programming?"

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Karin McKie is a writer, educator and activist at KarinMcKie.com

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