Techno Romance In The Age Of “Siri”

960 words - 4 pages

Her (2013) is based on a futuristic premise that sets the stage for an unusual love story between a lonely, nebbish, professional letter-writer, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) and his artificially intelligent computer operating system, Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). In the movie, Spike Jonze, the writer and director, touches upon the larger questions surrounding the human condition and how our desire to be loved and accepted has led us to seek technological substitutes for our most basic emotional needs. Importantly, the movie also comes with an embedded caveat for the future based on our current socio-cultural obsession with technology--if we were to continue our zeitgeist-y ...view middle of the document...

Samantha, with Theo’s permission, begins efficiently reorganizing his inbox, sorting and deleting his old emails, making him laugh, and developing a human-like consciousness. The plot thickens as Theo and Samantha commence an unusual psychosexual relationship and he begins to introduce Samantha as his girlfriend. She (it) ushers in a breath of fresh air into Theo’s life, draws him out of himself and helps him get back to being the optimistic schlemiel he once was. At first, Theo thinks of himself as an outlier to be dating a disembodied operating system, but as he looks around, he finds that he is not alone pursuing a relationship with an OS. Similarly, Amy (Amy Adams), his friend, who has also recently ended her marriage, is getting caught up in a new relationship with an OS left behind by her estranged husband. What follows is a cautionary tale of a love affair between a man and his smartphone.
Another element used in the film that adds strength to its characters is the choice of actors. It is hard to imagine anyone other than Joaquin Phoenix playing the poetic melancholic role of Theodore. Joaquin’s clever costume design by Casey Storm, complete with his tragicomic mustache, is used to convey the director’s belief that fashion recycles itself. The choice of Scarlett Johansson over Samantha Morton as the voice of Samantha during post-production was a momentous decision. Scarlett Johansson’s scratchy, girly, seductively human voice creates a cocoon that incubates Theo’s and Samantha’s romance.
The visual imagery and brilliant cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema enhances the futuristic theme with its warm, creamy, ochre-tones. The mesmerizing Shanghai skyline that is used to depict Los Angeles (shot from loving distance) further adds to the visual allure and luxurious feel of the movie.
Our dalliance with technology is essentially an exercise in solipsism, where people are increasingly turning to technology to...

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