I’m terrible at keeping up with recent cinema. I’m always at a loss when someone asks “OH MY GOD HAVE YOU SEEN _____?!” It’s always my blank look following their disappointed and/or incredulous one. Sometimes, I’ll spoil popular movies by looking up their plot summaries on Wikipedia, just so I have something to contribute when people get all atwitter over their new favorites.
I didn’t do that with Her. I earmarked this movie as something I would eventually see. I haven’t allowed myself a chick flick since I imposed a moratorium on myself towards all unrealistic storybook romances. But I love me some Scarlett Johansson and I’m a big fan of Joaquin Phoenix. Spike Jonze is always a treat to watch, so I figured I’d let myself indulge in a lovey-dovey story.
Seeing this movie was kind of a challenge, since I didn’t want to be so pathetic and lonely as to see a movie like this by myself, and I couldn’t really bring it up with my single friends without looking like a complete vagina.
Then a friend suggested that we go see it, so I did.
What really defined this experience was sitting in front of a couple of hooligans who insisted on joking around the entire film. I’m sure they annoyed the shit out of everyone around them, but I kind of appreciated them keeping it light throughout all the heavy moments. They also amplified the savvy comedy that’s sprinkled throughout the film. They prevented me from losing myself in a puddle of romanticism, which also allowed me to see this movie a bit more objectively than I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
I mean, it’s a crazy love story. A guy falls in love with his computer. They have literal cybersex. They go on double dates. They fight and come close to a complete breakdown (to which my neighbors commented: “You leavin’ me? Bitch I own you!”). They do everything that two people in love purportedly do.
Sidenote: Scarlett Johansson could narrate Leviticus and make Old Testament legalities sound sensual and vulnerable as fuck. Also, that woman knows how to fake an orgasm like no other.
What I really liked about this film was its ability to show all sides of the insanities of affection. Hell, we’re rooting for an introverted writer who’s rocking a Megan’s Law mustache. We almost convince ourselves that Scarlett Johansson’s OS is an actual living, breathing person. We simultaneously see the ridiculousness and the legitimacy of finding love in the digital age. We laugh at and with the characters. There’s a dead cat phone sex scene involved.
Her is neither too happy nor too sad, which makes it one of the most believable movies I’ve seen about love. Which is funny, since it’s about a guy falling in love with his fucking computer.
I knew this was a good movie when it came to the penultimate scene. The entire theatre was silent. The raw emotion of the scene was being bought wholesale by the entire audience. Even the jokers behind me – who were talking and jawing the entire movie – knew not to lighten up the mood. Heartbreak definitely feels unfair. Unfairness feels so personal, but fairness is much broader than the emotions of one person.
And yet, Spike Jonze let us leave with a sense of hope. There is no clean ending, no guarantees about happily ever after, no directions towards lifelong loneliness. Life goes on, because although life devotes a lot of meaning towards finding love, love is only but a part of our existence.
I hate most love stories because I maintain that most writers and artists don’t know shit about love. For the most part, most artists impose too much of their own personal take on something that’s so vast and amorphous. The genius of Her is that it’s so removed from traditional roles, it allows love to present itself in its vast, sticky, nebulous, and wondrous entirety.
4 out of 5 Stars.