Yeah, yeah, yeah, there is going to be much spoilage. Do not read the review if you haven’t seen the movie.
Movie in three words: Siri has sex.
Okay, there’s a lot more to it than that. Her is making me a little bit mad, because it has overthrown Gravity as the most original movie of 2013. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Gravity to death, but…yeah. This was pretty damn original.
However, having literally just watched it, I find myself a little disturbed by my own reaction to this film. Not my reaction to its originality, but rather my reaction to the movie itself. I liked this movie, but at the same time I feel kind of empty after watching it, and I’m not sure why. Maybe reviewing it will help.
Her is a story about a guy named Theodore who falls in love with his operating system, named Samantha. The story seems to take place in the future, but in a future that is believably real. In fact, I think the setting of this movie may be its greatest strength. There are things about the movie’s world that are strange and new, but seem achievable, and closely achievable. Artificial intelligence has always been a fascinating and oft-explored subject, and right now in 2014 it seems to be getting more relevant than ever. We all carry Siri around in our pockets. We talk to her and she tells us what we need to know. But what if (and this is the question this movie poses) she could actually respond to us by her own volition? What if she could grow and learn and feel?
That in and of itself isn’t what’s original about Her. Rather than taking a science fiction approach to the artificial intelligence story, Her takes a very human approach, directly addressing the implications and emotions that could occur if such a being existed. Because when you couple a thing that’s willing to learn, grow, and wants to experience feeling with someone who’s desperate and lonely and depressed, what do you get? A love story.
Theodore finds himself needing Samantha because she reminds him of what it was like to enjoy life. Samantha is experiencing everything for the first time; Theodore feels like he’s experienced enough. There’s a scene towards the middle when he says something to the effect of that he’s afraid he’ll never experience an original feeling again, that his impending divorce has caused him to wonder whether or not every new emotion is just a shadow of another one felt in a happier time. That’s a really profound and thought provoking question, and it still has me thinking about it.
It’s just hard for me to explain what my feelings are concerning this film. The ideas brought up in it are original and excellent, and the dialogue is excellent. It’s probably the closest thing I’ve seen to what real-life conversations are like and how people interact, and it isn’t even set in the present day.
The movie is also gorgeous. There are some beautiful, very cleverly done shots (although towards the end I was getting a little sick of the constant close-ups).
I suppose my issue with Her is that it felt like a very original and memorable story that just happened to be a film. I’m not even sure if that’s necessarily a bad thing, but Her could have been a play or a book or a song, even, and it would have been very similar. It’s hard for me to talk about this movie as a movie because it’s not trying to be a movie, it’s trying to be a story with original ideas and profound, thought provoking subjects. And while the profundity is very genuine, I’m still wondering what makes this work as a movie. Because if I had one complaint about the whole thing, it was the acting. It was good for about the first thirty minutes and then it was just the same (with the exception of the ending, which was very well done). Amy Adams is fantastic (and underrated) as always, but Joaquin Phoenix started to bore me after a while, and at times I began wondering what on earth all these women, including Samantha, see in Theodore at all. He’s kind of pathetic. To the film’s credit, he does admit as much, but it’s at the end and not long after Samantha decides to leave and it’s never brought up again.
But it’s not like I can sit here trying to persuade myself or my invisible audience that Her isn’t good, because I would be a fool and a liar. Her is good. In some respects, it’s fantastic. Maybe it’s a film that appeals to some people more than others, but for me, I’m not sure I would give it another watch anytime soon. Not because I didn’t like it, but because while it’s thought provoking and original and clever and well written and beautifully shot and deep and profound, it is all of those things without feeling very much like a movie. But if you don’t care about that and want to see a damn original story, give this one a watch. You definitely won’t be disappointed.