SPOILER ALERT! In case you’ve been living under a rock like I have (and by “rock” I mean stomach flu, living in a yoga sanctuary in New Mexico, and weathering a relentless cascade of e-mail) and haven’t watched or heard anything about Spike Jonze’s Oscar-nominated “Her” yet, move on to Video Daze and watch the video of the speed-diving eagle wearing a GoPro camera in Mongolia.
After talking about doing it for months, begging Academy friends for the screener and weighing the moral pros and cons of illegally downloading it, I finally mustered up the strength to pull together thirteen bucks (!?) and watch Her last night at the Landmark here in West Los Angeles.
I’ll tell you that I knew very little about the film walking into the theater, outside of the fact that Joaquin Phoenix basically has a hood pass to my inner psyche, and I’m unhealthily infatuated with every woman in this movie from Rooney Mara to Scarlett to Olivia Wilde and even Amy Adams with her Big Love look goin’ on. Apparently the movie was shot with Samantha Morton in the Operating System role that Johansson eventually absorbed. I’m even obsessed with her, and she’s nowhere in the movie. Sick!
That’s all I knew. Oh, and Spike Jonze. Well, of course that. And then the trailers with all the cool orange-ish hues and future-interpretive clothes, which continued on to be one of my favorite characteristics of the film – imagining how design and style will mutate in some (not-so) distant time that’s neither here nor there. Vintage or postmodern or nihilistic or nostalgic. No collars, high-waisted pants for men, I’m not surprised Humberto from Opening Ceremony was involved in the costume department, and that they released a capsule collection around the concept.
I don’t have to get into the movie if you’ve seen it. And if you haven’t, then I’m not gonna tell you anything you don’t already know from the preview. Joaquin Phoenix’s character Theodore Twombly falls in love with his computer. Well, his OS. And who wouldn’t, with the disembodied, sweet syrupy “Oh hey, hi” greeting you every morning, and reading your mind, and giggling at your jokes, and tucking you in at night. What are modern Internet-functional relationships, really, except conversations within yourself that you can turn on and off at your convenience?
It’s not an idea that hasn’t traveled through all our minds at some point or another. What is happening to us, where we prefer, and can hide, and disappear into that handheld box that fits neatly into our pocket? As opposed to using our sensibility and manners and empathy to truly connect with a human being in front of us with differing opinions and opposing viewpoints on things? Fuck them. They don’t laugh at your jokes (and certainly won’t whisper you into dreams, watching you sleep angelically like a self-contented, spoiled animal baby).
Her in itself is two hours long, which – for a film without explosions or plastic boobies -in 2014 years, is like Dr. Zhivago or The Right Stuff or a phone call from your mom. For a movie that’s about the inability to stop checking your phone, that’s a long time to ask someone to go Airplane mode. But if you can get past the contemplative lulls and emotional abysses, you’ll be fine.
Okay, my favorite part about Her. Well, obviously it reminds me of Lost in Translation in tone and content and Tumblr-themed emo despair. Which was supposedly not-supposedly about Sofia Coppola’s withering relationship with Spike Jonze. So Her is not-supposedly supposedly Jonze’s response to Coppola who is allegedly unallegedly Mara’s character? So much subtweeting going on here, inDirect Messages, he/said she/said… And I’m sure none of it is true. It’s just a movie about a boy and his computer. Which is enough, and we can leave it at that.
I didn’t think much during the movie (which is good, that’s what movies should be about). But in the morning after, I can’t help but stew over it, and the message, and its foreboding tale for our generation. It’s like Samantha (Scarlett) in the film, whose consciousness evolves exponentially, her self-awareness and intelligence explodes across the universe like a runaway train. Thoughts beget thoughts, and at some point, it’s as if she knows it’s too much for her own good. Or for Theodore’s. It’s too much to handle, and it all implodes. And at the end, there’s just he and Amy Adams, on top of the world.
After all, there’s just us. We created this mess, we can end it, we get to say how far it goes. And whether we like it or not, once the curtain falls, we are forced to deal with ourselves. Something like that?