Well, that was certainly unexpected. And expected.
Stefan and I spent a couple days watching the Oscar-winning drama Her, and both came away with the feelings of being impressed, creeped out, informed, and well, entertained.
The plot is a modern take on a 1984-esque story. The main character, Theo, played by Joaquin and his creepy mustache (and yes, the mustache was a perfect fit for the character!), falls in love with his computer, Samantha, a female companion 'matched' for him from a series of questions. Scarlett Johannson plays the perfect body-less, sexy voice of the artificial intelligence, who 'learns' as she is used. Think charging your car battery while you run the car, but in a much more complex way.
As Theo is finalizing a divorce, he starts to spend most of his free time with Samantha, who quickly becomes his girlfriend. The other characters try to accept this new 'different' lifestyle, as a lot of people in the culture have started dating their computers, and most take to Samantha very well. Theo's soon to be ex-wife, Catherine, is the only one who calls him out on it, telling him he has to take an artificial being because he can't deal with real feelings and real people.
The thing, though, about this movie, is that it was presented as futuristic, but our culture is much closer to this than Huxley's Brave New World was to him. The plot of a person becoming enamored with the internet, artificial reality, and a personality found through software is either happening currently or we're teetering near the edge, as a culture, so closely it's hard to say this is distant future science fiction.
Samantha can never put a finger (see what I did there?) on her feelings, but because she is learning new things all the time, she experiences, learns, and grows almost exponentially. She writes music for Theo (amazing soundtrack, by the way, music by Arcade Fire), helps him achieve a goal through his work, and becomes friends with his friends, all as a voice and a personality turned on by beeping an earplug. It's completely wild. And completely realistic. And really intriguing. The setting was a large metropolitan area, similar to Tokyo or Shanghai with architecture similarly found in those cities, adding to the virtual reality consumption believability.
In one scene, Theo has a near panic attack because he can't find Samantha. The computer program reads something to the effect of "offline". He's in the subway system and every single person there is talking out loud, also to their own artificial companion, and the audience realizes how lonely these people all are, and if they'd just communicate with the people they come into contact with, they'd be living much more balanced lives. Instead, they dissolve into these bizarre mind-prisons where they have chosen to believe that their computer 'gets them' better than anyone else; friends, family, neighbors. They've all but given up on each other, and have forgotten that with a few randomly asked questions and a chosen preference for a male or female voice, they have created their own fake god, and it's modeled after themselves.
I don't want to give any spoilers, but I do think this movie is worth the watch, there is so much going on under the surface. Spike Jonze has created a world so closely resembling ours, where virtual reality and the internet has completely taken over human engagement, and the struggle it is to reach the surface of true emotion, real world commitment, and trust.