As I finished watching this highly realistic look into the future talking about our newly found friends in the world of electronics, there was all confusion in my mind to be honest. And the confusion was that whether to praise this well-made movie for its insightful projection of a lonely human mind satisfied living with his own set of machines all alone. Or should I take it as a concept making fun of we all who are readily giving away to these gadgets slowly and steadily missing the actual gifted life to be lived in a normal mode. So leaving the decision on every individual friend reading this with his own perception of the issue I would like to begin with a brief of the movie itself followed by few personal observations which might help you to take a wise decision in the end.
Revolving around a lonely man working in the cyber world as a letter writer, on the verge of taking a divorce, HER is about his strange virtual relationship formed with his newly bought operating system talking to him as a woman named Samantha. Backed by a powerful intelligent software, this non-existing friend gets closer & closer to the man through her sensual voice and immensely likable persona. And spending more & more time with Samantha he eventually falls in love with her, only to be left alone again as per the software’s pre-set programming designed cunningly. An extremely well-conceived concept by director Spike Jonze, the film basically works due to its lead performances by Joaquin Phoenix as the lonely man along with Scarlet Johansson as the sexy voice behind the computer generated woman without a face. And together they do give you a real feeling of a lively romance developing between the two in an inviting virtual ambience of computers.
So as a film, this can easily be rated as a great achievement in terms of futuristic story-telling, highly inventive yet realistic concept, commendable sound design, well composed musical score, brilliant camerawork, believable performances and an introspective direction by Jonze. The execution pulls you in right away and one can feel as if in a direct relation with its lead character completely in sync with his thoughts, emotions and actions. The extreme close ups make you understand the expressions more naturally and you simply have a novel experience watching this highly emotional science fiction winning the Best Original Screenplay award and four other major nominations at the OSCARS this year quite deservingly.
However the reason for including HER in the must watch movies list here is nothing related to its technical or thematic excellence. But it actually has been added as the film which might become a high alert alarm for many of us, fast heading towards becoming a person close to the film’s main protagonist to say the truth.
In other words, leaving the technical achievements apart, if one doesn’t appreciate this movie at all then I would like to call it a real bright positive indication, as it means that you couldn’t find any instant connect with its characters, which is in fact GOOD. But in case you loved the movie and could easily identify with its leading lonely character enjoying a virtual love, then in my opinion it raises a serious alarm and is quite dangerous too. Since it reveals that you are also somewhere feeling like him only from the inside, looking for that imaginary solace in the machines around taking most of your available time of the day in a questionable manner.
And that is the exact reason why HER has been included in the ‘must watch list’ here, as I wished this movie to become an instant WARNING for all my friends somehow falling into the same fictional trap as depicted in its script.
Putting it in more stronger words, I don’t want any of my friend living with this kind of silly ‘HER syndrome’ as I would like to call it. Because all kinds of technical developments in this new-age century are being made by us, to be used as a means to grow and live a better life ahead. But only dumb minds give away to technology in such a manner like the main protagonist of HER.
So I want all my friends to watch HER to learn the lesson of ‘what’s not to be done’ in all positivity and become beware of such idiotic virtual practices which can easily win us over taking much of our valuable time just for nothing.
I wish you all to see the film, as it will make you understand that how we ought to enjoy the weather going out in the nature feeling it on our own and not by reading the weather reports on our cellphones.
I would like to recommend HER since it may make you realize that its not fair to avoid your innocent kids just to get back to your work or to the kitchen by giving them a game to play on a tab, phone or laptop. In fact that remains the first stage of developing the typical ‘HER kind of generation’ in the coming future.
I wish everyone reading watches this because it might make you aware that its criminal to forget picking up a pen and paper to write and always do it on your digital screens. Yes, we ought to use these machines to save our time & energy both. But we are not supposed to allow them to take over us completely turning into some lifeless, action-less beings entirely dependent over them 24x7.
And in support of my above expressions, I would like to share a recent personal experience related to the heavy load-shedding seen in our area (in Delhi) in the last few months which you must have read or heard about in the news too.
Now its about a decent middle class locality I am referring to, wherein every household is fully equipped with cable TV, internet connectivity, high end mobile phones, tabs, laptops, digital games and much more in terms of electronic gadgets.
So it was around 7pm in the evening when the lights went off and there was a complete black out with the natural light fading out in the next few minutes only. As few people made some phone calls we got informed that it was a long load-shedding being done which might go to 6 to 8 hours to be exact. The first few hours didn’t make much difference as most of the houses had inverters installed and the impact was not much. The television sets were off but the people were still busy using their laptops, phones or tabs along with their kids and nobody was feeling the void since all their gadgets were calmly running on their available batteries as expected.
But things didn’t remain the same for long and post 3-4 hours around 11pm, the park in the middle of the area was full of clueless, restless, irritated, abusive ZOMBIES. Their computers, laptops, tabs, PSPs and phones had stopped working due to the drained out batteries, the inverters had gone off too and they had now got nothing to do at all as per their fixed routines. Many of them were just roaming around looking at their wrist watches repeatedly and many had opted to go for a car-ride taking their families along to make an immediate escape. The scenario became pretty tense towards the mid-night and one could easily see only disturbed faces all around looking for only one thing to get back on track so desperately.
However, there was one old aged sane person in this silly chaos, a learned man who very well knew how to use this time in the best possible manner and luckily I found him in the end of all parked cars sitting inside his Wagon-R with the cabin light on. The old man already knew me and my interests through my website, so the moment I hesitatingly knocked at his side of the window-glass, he rolled it down a little keeping away the book he was reading and said,
“If you have got something to read then bring it fast and get into the back seat…….., as I don’t want any of these mad creatures to waste my valuable time with their stupid gossips.”
Taking the clue like an obedient student, I ran towards the house, took out one of my ongoing books and in just 2 minutes was reading it sitting at the backseat of the car with the AC on at the minimum. And we kept reading for about two hours when he turned back and said,
“You know what we used to do 20 years back when load-shedding happened to be a routine part of our lives, especially at nights and we didn’t have any cars to spend the time in. We used to play carom board, cards or other children games like Ludo, Saanp Seerhi and more borrowing them for a night, in the light of few small candles. And I still cherish those nights as one of the most enjoyable times of my life spent with all the dear friends.”
I really loved listening to the old man’s unforgettable memories and could easily relate to them personally since we too had spent our childhood in the same manner, watching the adults enjoying our games borrowed for the night playing in any selected corner. But then remembering the good old times for a while, we both soon came back to the present returning to our individual books. And the moment light came back just before the sunrise, we had finished reading them all and had only smiles to exchange, shaking hands together saying “Thank you” to each other.
Coming to the moral of the story, the old man righty knew how to use the available technology (the battery & petrol of his car) to his own benefit and was not distressed when all his gadgets were not available for more than 8 hours. Using the right words, he was not yet bitten by any ‘HER Syndrome’ at all whereas almost everyone else in the locality went through an extremely difficult phase in those long hours without the electricity.
So relating this enlightening experience with the movie here, I would really like you all to watch HER and try to learn ‘what not to do’ from it with a clear positive mindset, as I don’t want any of my friends or their kids living his or her life with such a silly ‘HER syndrome’ today, tomorrow or in the coming future.
Written & Directed by Spike Jonze
Starring : Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson and more.