– Monica Snowball
Spike Jonze takes the idea of melancholic virtual romance to a whole new level in the movie Her (2013).
Set in Los Angeles in the distant future, Theodore Twombly (played by Joaquin Phoenix) is a quirky and awkward character who stands out from the crowd. From the beginning, it’s obvious that Theodore is different. He always wears red while surrounding characters wear washed out greys and blues. He walks in the opposite direction to others in a large.
Theodore works at a greeting cards tech company, and being a computer geek, he purchases a new OS1 program that has a consciousness – Samantha. From the very birth of the OS, we know that Samantha will be a positive influence on the introverted, melancholic character Theodore.
The film explores relationships in layers.
It examines certain inherent characteristics of Samantha that are difficult not to love– she is a funny, sensitive and deep. Theodore is portrayed as sensitive, generous with his time and affectionate. The movie captures these qualities as compatible and essential for the relationship to develop.
It also reviews the impracticality of the relationship. Samantha is a computer system. Theodore cannot hold her and the only physical element about her is her voice. Even though this is the case, he still takes her on dates, introduces her to his friends, and is even intimate with a surrogate women in place of Samantha.
The movie questions our current world.
But is it enough? The underlying theme is consistent loneliness. No matter how real Theodore tries to make the relationship, it slowly slips away as both parties come to the realisation that there needs to be that extra element for the relationship to be real – tactile, to feel each other, to be in each others presence, and for both parties to have a real human soul.
The movie questions our current world; communication in the 21st century. Social media and dating websites are becoming more widely utilised to facilitate easy connectivity and timely chats. Although convenient, there is demise. There is something detached and melancholic about connecting emotionally with someone electronically. We lose that tactile element – we cannot see the person’s smile, feel their warmth, kiss their cheek or hold their hand and essentially connect with their physical soul. The film explores this, but also explores how personality, words, and emotions alone can still achieve love.
Although the film comes across as quite cliché and predictable – boy meets girl, they fall in love and then grow apart – it has a very indigenous element to it making it unique
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