Have you seen Her, Samantha?


Warning: Spoilers ahead. Picture via here.

K texted me and said, “we have to go watch Her. 93% on Rotten Tomatoes!”

I am glad I did not read any reviews or spoilers before watching the movie by Spike Jonze. I don’t care as much about how it is a dystopian science fiction film, how it will dominate user-interface design or how it is the scariest movie of 2013 (but in case you too, fell in love with the movie and want to continue to immerse yourself with thoughts of Her, these two are really good articles written about the movie).

I care about why, oh why, Samantha had to leave Theodore.

My right hand was squeezing K’s hand, while my left was wiping away tears that keep welling up. When the credits started rolling, I realize that Her reminded me of 500 days of Summer.

The enigmatic girl who is charming and who just had to leave the guy. The sensitive guy who is so smitten and yet afraid of his own feelings. The reawakening of a jaded heart by the pure and innocent joys of falling in love and the act of doing silly things together. The abrupt heartbreak which is inevitable.

When Theodore could not find Samantha and was frantically tripping over himself to locate her, I was thinking, could it be that she uninstalled herself? Or that the software has bugs and caused a fatal error? The conversation that followed when he finally got hold of S was so chilling. The kind of chills when you realize that you could be losing someone you love. And you have no clue when and how it started and what you could have done wrong.

After the movie ended, I didn’t feel like going home yet. I was still lost in the tinted scenes. It was a nice touch that even though this film was set in the future, the furniture, the clothes, the colour schemes were comfortingly and beautifully reminiscent of mid-century influence. It was not all white and steel and screaming “The Future is Here!” as some other sci-fi films like to do. In fact, it looked so much like a good-taste version of what could happen in the very near future. And I really like his orange shirts and tweed-coloured pants.

K and I went to a cafe to have a hot drink and snacks. As we talked through our thoughts on the movie, I felt grateful that we could have date nights like this and have so much to talk about even though we have been together for more than 4 years.

We talked about how people changed their hearts and why affairs happen. Samantha was just so interested in Theodore and she was excited about everything. She didn’t have any secret agendas nor was self-obsessed. She was just pure and innocent. In real life, when someone new comes along and shows an interest in an ordinary married man or woman who no longer enjoys stimulating dialogue with his or her spouse, isn’t that the start of the universal story of “I don’t know how it happened. I love you and I don’t know why I did it. We just kind of fell in love”?

Isabella was a strange character who truly wanted to be a part of T & S’s love story. When played out in the movie, she was kind of creepy weird. What kind of girl would do this? However, when I thought about it a bit more, it hit me. Lots of girls and women do get very emotionally involved in the romantic novels they read. Just look at Twilight and 50 shades of Grey. If Edward and Bella were real, would there not be some females who would also want to become a vampire and share in their kind of love? I don’t understand its appeal but I reckon some would.

Love truly makes the world go round. No matter how ancient or far into the future we go, I am certain the same euphoria from meeting someone whom you could deeply connect to and the same crazy pain of heartbreak, exists.

As we looked around us on the train, we saw many heads tilted downwards staring into the mobile screens with fingers typing away. How many people still use the phone to call and have a real time conversation? I no longer do that with my friends. It is so much easier to talk simultaneously to a few people via whatsapp. Aren’t the symptoms of what Her was demonstrating already here? We already feel connected to others just from looking at words appearing via text messages, emails and Facebook like buttons. We don’t even need a human voice to go along with them.

A point which the “scariest movie” article made is very true. “Samantha, or the thing we call Samantha, does not enslave Theodore; but Element Software does, via the deception that such a being as “Samantha” exists, that it is in fact a her. Just because there aren’t any killer robots around doesn’t mean you’re free. In Jonze’s all too plausible dystopia, we are enslaved not to robots but corporations, and the invisibility, even desirability of that enslavement is what makes Her so chilling.”

I mean, I just spent the whole time talking as if Samantha was a real being with feelings as opposed to an OS created by a clever corporation. And the corporation’s success is based on how much it can stay hidden behind a charismatic but artificially created presence; designed to extract more and more personal data from us. And the scariest thing is that it changes us, the users along the way. How many of us feel like our lives have changed because of Apple, or that we can’t live without our iPhones? The outpouring of grief over Steve Jobs’s death is no less than that of a beloved idol, where millions simultaneously feel so emotionally connected with.

Her is truly the best social commentary of our present times that I have seen over the past few years.


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