Release Date: 2013
Director: Spike Jonze
Set in the near future, this movie is about a man developing a romantic relationship with the consciousness of a computer operating system. It’s an interesting take on the love story dealing with layers of reality and artifice and the role of technology in human society. While there are some very uncomfortable and unsettling scenes, the movie doesn’t take the typical kneejerk anti-technology stance, and it doesn’t judge. The overall feeling I get is that intimacy and relationships in this future will continue to be a challenge to negotiate but that the new technology will not make it a dystopia.
The protagonist Theodore works as writer for a service that provides personal handwritten letters which are neither personal now handwritten. Despite his ability to express meaningful emotions for others in the letters he crafts he has trouble expressing his own self to others. We see him often in crowds where everyone seems to be having meaningful interactions with someone, just not the people around him. Most surprisingly for a comedy about “man who falls in love with his computer” he’s not alone as other characters admit to also having relationships with their operating systems which is an interesting twist.
The story of Samantha, the OS, is also interesting as it addresses the idea of the rights and privileges of conscious beings even when artificially created. The conclusion of her story is unexpectedly reminiscent of the 1984 movie Electric Dreams (on of my all time favorites, cheesy as it is).
One thing I really liked about this vision of the future is a Los Angeles where people lived and worked in cozy high-density buildings with lots of public transit and pedestrian space. This movie is mostly quiet conversation and at two hours I admit my attention did drift a bit. But it is a thought-provoking and beautifully filmed and acted story.