In Spike Jonze’s new film, Her, novelist Eric Segal’s Love Story assertion that “love means never having to say you’re sorry” takes on a whole new meaning. Joaquin Phoenix gives a relaxed and convincing performance as Theodore Twombly, a middle-aged man whose heart learns to adore an operating system, the OS1. Voiced by Scarlett Johansson (her lines were delivered in real time from an isolation booth), the OS1 is calm and implacable. She is HAL from 2001, but equipped with a soothing and sexy voice simulator that can manipulate emotions with sly ease. Think of the artificial vocal emissions of today’s customer service lines and the robotic commands of Stephen J. Hawking’s speech synthesizer replaced by the voice of the world’s sexiest women. And she, that is the operating system, can make use of calculations at a speed that is beyond human comprehension. OS-1, or Samantha as it/she is called, computes, assesses, and acts on (at light speed) every need, mood, and desire. Facebook and Twitter on steroids, she reacts (perfectly) to Twombly’s every utterance. Because there is no competition with a physical body, this new ‘girlfriend’ exists only in the hearer’s imagination. Read more...
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