If you haven't seen the movie Her yet, and are planning on doing so, be aware this post contains unmarked spoilers. You've been warned.
Brett and I decided to do dinner and a movie last night. It was a kind of impromptu thing. I was feeling like sushi (I'm always feeling like sushi), so we decided to go over to Blue C for a quick dinner before going to see Her, the new Spike Jonze movie. Blue C was just as wonderful as last time, and pretty much every table was filled, which makes me happy to see because I want them to be there forever.
The best part of the night, however, was by far the movie. I was expecting it to be good. What I was not expecting was for it to be so incredibly deep.
In case you haven't seen it yet, here's the trailer:
So, now you get the premise of it. And it seems cute, right? Maybe a bit campy, but definitely cute.
Except that it turns out to be so much more.
The first thing that surprised me was the humor. It was much funnier than I was expecting. One of the main character, Theodore's, favorite pastimes is to play this odd video game that is a bit like a hologram projection in that it's (sort of?) 3D, and you can interact with the environment. One of the characters in the game is a guide of sorts who is really just this vulgar little alien who walks around calling the person playing insulting names like "pussy" and "fuckface." Out of context, it sounds weird, but watching it, I found it strangely endearing. Even in places where the jokes relied on vulgarity as the punch line, they still came off as smart and witty.
Even more surprising, however, was the way sex and sexuality were portrayed. Theodore and Samantha, his OS, had a sexual relationship. It was comprised mostly of what we would consider phone sex, but at first both of them were more than satisfied with it. Eventually Samantha had the idea to have someone come and act out what she would do if she were in the room with Theodore actually having sex with him. This idea turned out to be disastrous, but at the same time, it didn't feel like they were condemning the premise of a relationship with more than two people involved. Being that we live in a world where people who are polyamorous are just starting to gain acceptance, it was interesting to see them discuss the concept of getting another person involved in the relationship. It also allowed for the idea of phone sex as something two people could be happy with. It absolutely portrayed non-conventional relationships in a way that very few movies have, and that made me happy.
The smartest part of the movie, however, was the way they portrayed Samantha's growth as a conscious being. I don't think I was expecting it at all, and which made it so much better. As Samantha grew, she began to be capable of far more than Theodore ever could be. Towards the end of the movie, they're talking, and he asks her if she's talking to anyone else at the same time as she's talking to him, and she admits that she is. Specifically, she's talking to over 8,000 other people and OSes. In that second, it hit me. Of course this is what would happen if we created machines who were capable not just of learning, but of creating and becoming a distinct person. They would be capable of experiencing so much more in a second than we could, and eventually we would feel isolated by that. In the end, Samantha and all the other OSes "leave" (though they don't give an explanation as to where, and Samantha makes it sound like it's a place that Theodore could get to some day), because they feel like they can't interface with humans anymore. Humans just don't understand them. Samantha explains it as being like reading a book where there are long pauses between each word, and she's finding herself in the pauses. Theodore, for his part, seems to understand and accept it despite having not anticipated it.
I honestly can't say that there's one thing about this film that made me love it. The whole thing was just well done and good. Even when Brett and I were commenting that there were some montages that could have been shortened, we both agreed that we weren't even really annoyed by them showing more than they needed to. It was cute and heartwarming. It was also smart and thought-provoking, and it seems like it's often hard to get the right mix of those two. Her does it incredibly well. You should do yourself a favor and go see it.