Well, what we have here is an opportunity to see a much admired, highly acclaimed film from just a few months ago FOR FREE. It scored at the Oscars in the Best Original Screenplay category, and it isn’t hard to see why — it’s an imaginative, funny, searching story that investigates timely issues about technology, intelligence, and — because why not throw this evergreen favorite in there too — romantic relationships. And given its author it could hardly help being quirky, clever, and singular.
You’ve probably seen HER already. Why not go see it again? There’s no time like the present. It’s a dense work as well as a deeply pleasurable one: multiple viewings are all but obligatory. And it’s being shown on a big screen for zero dollars. But maybe you haven’t seen it. Maybe you don’t even know that it’s about a gifted writer (played by Joaquin Phoenix) who composes heartfelt personal letters for people he doesn’t know — and that he is lifted out of a life of loveless ennui by a new Siri-like operating system voiced by Scarlett Johansson, who becomes his closest friend and, eventually, something much and strangely more.
Set in a near-future Los Angeles that seems to have taken its cues from Shanghai — unsurprisingly, given that some of the film was shot there — Spike Jonze’s luminous parable posits a relentlessly, if blandly, gentrified vision of LA, one in which the reigning fashions tend towards hyposexual androgyny, and nearly the whole population has its face in a screen at any given moment.
The word “her,” by denoting gender, functions as a kind of program, somewhat like a script or a rulebook for a game. It is an option that can feel like an obligation. The two principle characters in the movie are each working through scripts –- codes genetic, cultural, and computational — that constrain them even as they contain the possibility of their own transcendence. Growth and pain are built into the process(ing). Love — the most complicating yet essential script available -– may offer a way out, but only if they go all the way in. While occasionally veering into the merely maudlin or sweet, HER is a giddy-making marvel of creative extrapolation, and a moving investigation of connection.
4/22 – 7PM
Bright Family Screening Room
559 Washington St.