Technology is developing at an exponential rate. The machines which once were considered supercomputers and occupied whole rooms now fit in the palm of your hand. That exponential growth does not seem to stop anytime soon and many futurists already try to look ahead and predict where it will lead us. Ray Kurzweil is one of them, who predicts that there will be a moment where our minds simply will not be able to keep up with artificial intelligence, which will end up changing society. He even thinks there will be a moment where we no longer will need our physical bodies anymore and we can just upload ourselves to a computer, basically granting us eternal life and opening up new experiences. It is a subject I have always been interested in, seeing where technology will take mankind. Her is one vision of a future which to me does not sound that far-fetched.
The world of Her is not unlike ours. Phones have evolved and people hardly look at screens anymore. The voice commands we now use on iPhones with Siri or Google Now on Android have become the standard way of interacting, with people wearing a little device in their ears which gives them all the information they need. Videogames have evolved as well with room size projections of games and the possibility to control the game with just your hands and voice commands (like a futuristic version of Kinect). It is also a world where it seems to have become normal to have someone else write very personal letters for you. It is Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) who works for a company which offers that service. He is able to really get into the mind of the people he is writing for. He is able to write beautifully and seems to be a man who is in close touch with his feelings. Although he is able to inject a lot of love into other people’s relationships he is currently having trouble with his own as his wife (played by Rooney Mara) wants a divorce. On his way to work Theodore sees a commercial for a new operating system called OS1. This operating system is the first one with artificial intelligence and he decides to purchase it. Once at home he installs the system and starts talking to the system, which calls itself Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). The two start talking and Samantha becomes an essential part of his life. She doesn’t only help him with his work (sorting his email, reminding him of things) but is also the one Theodore can talk to about other things in his life. The two are inseparable and after a while he starts to develop feelings for her.
If you would hear someone talking about a movie where a man falls in love with his operating system, you probably might not be inclined to check it out as the concept just seems crazy. Director Spike Jonze (who also wrote the script) has managed to create a movie where that idea actually works and is believable. Part of that is because the people who inhabit this world mostly think it is completely normal. Theodore’s neighbour Amy (Amy Adams) also admits that her OS is one of her best friends and this helps the viewer into also accepting that this could happen. You could easily compare it to a long distance relationship where there is not physical presence either. The heart of the movie though is Joaquin Phoenix, who mostly is on-screen alone talking to Samantha. Scarlett Johansson’s voice was added later, but there is not a moment you would notice this.
I really loved the world that Her is set in. Even though it is set in the future everything feels very organic with a use of color which really adds a deep warmth to the feel of the picture. Storywise it is a movie which is filled with emotion, including the high and lows anyone in a relationship goes through. As time progresses Samantha starts to develop and learn, just like a person would, only quicker following that exponential growth I’ve mentioned at the beginning of this review. With no physical presence and unlimited access to information and other people she is able to grow at a fast pace. Her concept of time is also very different. The movie plays with those concepts and it makes you wonder if we ever will come at that point. Ray Kurzweil thinks we will within this century. If we do I’d be interested to see how it will change society and more importantly what it will change into. This movie offers an emotional ride against a technological background and that is the type of science fiction I can not get enough of.