Saturday, February 8, 2014

Movie Review: Her

Her is a neat science fiction film that would appeal to fans of the novel, Facsimile, if Facsimile had any fans for it to appeal to. Don't get me wrong: they're very different stories and even different settings, but they're in the exact same sub-genre. I don't know of anything else that is.

Sorry - I'm getting off track.

At any rate, like all of Spike Jonze's movies, there's a lot more going on in Her than the premise implies. What you've likely heard about Her is that it's a love story about man and a conscious computer system. And, on the surface, it is. In fact, if you're not a fan of science fiction, it'd be really easy to watch Her and think that's all that it was about. The movie follows its lead around constantly. Its focus rarely wanders at all. And, to him, this is a simple love story.

But there's so much more here. While I liked the quirky love story, I was much more interested in what was happening off screen. There are huge things happening in this film - massive, world-altering events - that the movie implies or mentions in passing. The main character doesn't grasp the ramifications, and it would easy for the audience to miss them, as well.

From an SF perspective, the movie handled these really well. Where it faltered was in the smaller details. For instance, rather than demonstrate an emergent consciousness, the OS came out of the box with a complex inner life. Sure, she had to learn to love and want and all that, but she started with a sense of self, which suggests it was something she was programmed with. While this didn't devolve into a Skynet situation, one wonders why the programmers took that chance.

There were several details like this. Small factors that raised unanswered questions. For example, if computer consciousness is this advanced, why haven't jobs like the one held by the main character been automated?

It'd be easy to give these issues too much weight, though. The larger ideas and themes work extremely well. Like Jonze's earlier movies, Her leaves you with a lot to mull over and piece together. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

No comments: