Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

What It's like to Fall in Love with Computer

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

What It's like to Fall in Love with Computer

Article excerpt

Byline: Ellen E. Jones


Rated: M

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix

Showing: The Strand

HER is Spike Jonze's first film as both writer and director, but like the films he made with screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, Being John Malkovich (1999) and Adaptation (2002), it is built around an idea which explores the essence of what it means to be human; it's about a man who falls in love with his computer operating system (think iPhone's "Siri", several thousand updates from now), represented by the disembodied voice of Scarlett Johansson.

Theodore lives in a future Los Angeles where everyone dresses in soft fabrics and gender-neutral designs and it's possible to earn a living, as he does, by composing heartfelt, personal letters on behalf of complete strangers. The New Yorker's critic Richard Brody described the film as a "feature-length kitten video".

"He seems like a pretty nice guy to know," is the verdict on Theodore from Joaquin Phoenix. What advice would he give to a friend who, like Theodore, had fallen in love with his computer? "I'd be like, a[approximately]Hit it.' Absolutely!"

When I suggest that conveying an emotional connection with a computer for Her might have been a particularly bizarre experience, Joaquin reminds me that all film acting is bizarre. "There's all of those technical things that already make the situation weird. Y'know what I mean? Even when you're talking on the phone in a scene and there's someone else doing the voice, it's strange. But I think at some point we just bought it and we went with it and we didn't make jokesa[degrees] We just looked at it like a real relationship."

In Her, Theodore's experience of falling in love with his "OS", Samantha - and our experience of watching this - also involves trying to ignore the interceding technology and overcome the self-conscious embarrassment of getting swept up in emotion.

Samantha is the latest in a long line of human-like computers in futuristic films which articulate our anxieties. …

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