Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Relatively Spoiler-Free Review of Her

I honestly had no idea what to expect from Her. It was the first Spike Jonze movie I'd seen, apart from Where the Wild Things Are. I hadn't even seen the trailer.

So first of all, I'll say it's a movie about robots with feelings, which is my thematic Achilles heel for a multitude of reasons (see: Blade Runner).

As the movie began, I had two concerns: one, that it would turn out to be yet another manic pixie dream girl story; and two, as I saw every character so enveloped in technology, that it would be yet another millenial-centric criticism of our growing dependence on technological advances.

In both cases, I was pleasantly surprised.

On the surface, it is totally a MPDG story. But what makes it distinct from the plethora of other films that abuse that trope is that it's both more realistic and more fulfilling. Samantha, the love interest, is not a one-dimensional character that exists for the sole purpose of furthering Theodore's plotline; similarly, while Theodore falls into the stereotype of a sensitive, brooding male hero, his character's personality has depth beyond that trope. They change each other, rather than Samantha being the underdeveloped catalyst for Theodore's inner potential. Through Theodore, Samantha learns about the complexity and range of human emotions-- he helps her gain a sense of individuality and humanity. Through Samantha, Theodore gains a new perspective on his life and his own emotional experiences. Both realize the validity of their own emotions and learn to question what it actually means to be human.

And rather than criticize the growing integration of technology into our daily lives, Spike Jonze seems to be welcoming it. The characters who question or who scoff at Theodore's relationship with Samantha, as well as other human-computer relationships, are shown as ignorant. I'm not necessarily advocating that anyone should consider themselves to be in a relationship with their computer-- especially not now, when they don't possess dynamic personalities and are very much objects-- but I think the story is analogous to Internet friendships in many ways. Some people deny that Internet friendships are even real, while others consider those they've met online more important to them than those they know in real life. And, as in Her, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Ultimately, it's a movie about change, and coming to terms with change. I completely recommend seeing it.

Stay classy,

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