Sunday, February 2, 2014
3 Thoughts on Her
1. The "future" of love - While the film is set in the near future, it's easily considered a "modern day love story". A beautiful, touching, smart and soul-crushing story of a man in love with an operating system. A lot of things have to happen, in order for the audience to buy this love story. First (and most important), we need to relate to it. I thought this is where the film would falter, especially for someone as cynical as I am. Spike Jonze brilliantly creates a future that's not really that much different from today. Instead of distracting the audience with super cool technological advances, futuristic set designs or weird fashion choices, all of the "future" references are relatively subtle. Yes, there is some super cool tech stuff and, while the fashion choices may seem odd, it's actually really brilliant, if you know fashion (the biggest fashion fact: everything is cyclical). As far as the romance is concerned, it's 100% believable. If I saw this, say, 4 years ago, I would have laughed through the whole movie. That just proves how quickly social media is advancing and bringing people together. There are online relationships, like this, forming everyday. The thing I really appreciate about this story is that it highlights the idea, that while these online relationships may be relieving us from the pain of loneliness, it may in fact, also be enhancing this same loneliness. It's really quite depressing to think about. The future of love, seems pretty bleak.
2. The "end" of love - *contains spoilers* The second thing that needs to happen for this story, is an understanding of the "other" perspective. We are following this story from a male point of view, which is problematic for me, because it could fall into the same boring, misogynistic tale of a man who can't find the perfect woman, so he creates one. We can understand his love for her; she makes him laugh, she's smart, she sounds sexy, and let's be honest, the biggest reason - she's "his". So, I can watch this movie with my feminist brain turned off, and think "awwww, how cute" or I can turn my feminist brain on and think "what's in it for her?". It's hard for me to turn my feminist brain off, so I had this sinking feeling that I was going to be aggravated by the end. I was so wrong and I love it. We can tell from the beginning, probably even before the movie starts, that this love story isn't going to end well. However, it doesn't end because it's a "doomed romance" as expected, instead it ends because this woman, who was basically "born" in the beginning of the movie, begins to grow and change, as women (and humans) do. The movie, isn't actually a love story at all. It's a story of a woman who decides her life doesn't need to revolve around one man. It's a story of a man learning that women are actually "people" and not something to possess. It's fucking glorious.
3. Joaquin Phoenix and "the voice" - The third essential part of this love story is the acting. The leads need to really believe in it and sell it. Joaquin Phoenix is absolutely outstanding. In a competitive year for not only excellent films, but also for phenomenal performances, Phoenix is a standout. I've been a fan of Joaquin Phoenix since Inventing the Abbotts (love that movie!), but he really floored me with The Master. I'm still upset that he didn't win the Oscar for it. I'm really surprised that he's not even nominated this year, but I don't know who I would omit (I haven't seen Nebraska yet, so I'll go with Bruce Dern for now). I've made my feelings about Scarlett Johansson's acting ability very clear on this blog (not a fan) and I've also given credit to her when it was due (Don Jon). She deserves some credit here too, as she makes you care about a character who you never see. However, I would give most of the credit for that success to the writer, Jonze, and also, on her looks. Yes, the fact that Scarlett Johansson is a recognizably, stunning woman is an important factor - and it's proven by the fact that Jonze replaced the original actress, Samantha Morton (who is also very beautiful, but not recognizable to the average movie-goer). It's essential that the audience know what she looks like, otherwise we (or at least, I) would dismiss it. We can pretend all we want, that looks don't matter, and that is the great thing about dating on social media - we can get to know someone instead of basing an attraction on looks, however, physical attraction will always be important. When the character is masturbating to a voice, he's most likely envisioning someone with Johansson's features, the same person that the audience is envisioning. It's ironic that a movie that seemingly doesn't rely on Johannson's looks, is actually the movie that relies on it the most.