First Hit: Very strong acting with a novel, yet thoughtful concept.
Can we fall in love with a voice that is the result of an artificially intelligent computer OS? This is the obvious question the film plays out, but it also is about learning, growing, being in the now and about the space between our thoughts.
The later part of this statement is mostly based on Samantha’s (computer OS voice by Scarlett Johansson) experience as she learns that there is more space and time between her interactions with humans than when she is interacting with them. She discovers there is more growth available to her in this space.
A computer’s experience and ability to learn (in this film) is far faster and probably greater than a human’s ability to do the same. Joaquin Phoenix (playing Theodore) is heartbroken about his collapsed marriage. Part of the self-acknowledged issue is that he shut himself off from his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara) and therefore hid himself.
Theodore is sensitive and this sensitivity allows him to be a star letter writer for an online company that writes letters from people to other people. He purchases a new OS whom introduces itself to him and asks what kind of voice he wants for the OS. He picks a woman’s voice.
The voice names herself Samantha, and he begins to be seduced by her abilities to take care of his tasks – his life tasks. This is both Theodore’s strength and weakness with Samantha. He loves that she is on top of his life but also he becomes dependent on her for conversational companionship. It is also made easy because there is no real person in front of him. As he falls in love with Samantha, it is clear that this is not going to have a wonderful ending, because she is not human – and is not bound by human feelings, emotions, and the limits of a body.
The scenes where he’s opening up to Samantha were truly beautiful. The scene where Samantha sends a physical surrogate to be with Theodore shows the complete awkwardness of this whole situation. The ending with Theodore and neighbor Amy (Amy Adams) who has somewhat the same experience with her OS is perfect.
Phoenix is extremely strong as Theodore a man looking for a way to find a safe connection with another human being. His ability to slip from the outside world to the inside world of sharing with Samantha is great. Mara, in a very limited role, is sublime. The divorce lunch conversation she has with Theodore was amazing. Her touching expressions were perfect and heartfelt. Adams is great as the computer game nerd who is also looking for a greater connection with her partner. Johansson’s voice is dead on perfect – so seductive, warm and expressive. Spike Jonze both wrote and directed this risky thought provoking film is a great concept and well done.
Overall: This film is very interesting by providing a glimpse of what could be a question we have to address in the not so distant future: Can we have a relationship with a computer OS?