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Date [ 2013-12-12, 08:40 ]

Perhaps the fist romance of its type.


(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) by Ramani Rathir = This film will hit the Malaysian film circuit next month in January. It is about a man who develops a relationship with a female voice produced by an intelligent computer operating system.
 
Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is a complex, soulful man who makes his living by writing touching, personal letters for other people. The requests come to his site: BeautifulHandwrittenLetter.com.

Heartbroken after the end of his marriage to Catherine (Rooney Mara) a lawyer, he is still in repression and unable to adjust as a once-again bachelor. His only means of happiness is playing a holographic video game that has foul-mouthed virtual characters running around loose and who make Theodore laugh.

The side plot has Amy (Amy Adams) as Theodore's best friend. Her marriage is falling apart and like Theodore finds solace in video games. At the same time. she wants him to come out from his daily façade of a drab, sad and self pitying face. 

So Theodore decides to get into contact with ‘ladies.’ Some of his ventures would include some phone sex, one of whom orders him to choke her with a dead cat. Later on a blind date (Olivia Wilde), things go well at first but then she criticizes his kissing prowess, and then scares Theodore away forever by outright insistence of that dreaded word ‘commitment.’

Utterly fed up, Theodore makes the bold decision to go into a different kind of relationship. He purchases a new computer operating system (OS) contained in a small portable object. This product promises ‘not just an OS — it's a consciousness.’ So Theodore gets not a curveous blonde but a bright, female voice with qualities of caring, sensitivity and the added bonus of having a sense of humour. The new operating system is unique in that it tailors itself to each individual user.

Theodore introduces himself, and the OS tells him that she is Samantha. She begins to organizing his email, keeping tabs on his important appointments, waking him up cheerily in the mornings and being the perfect housemate.

Then she takes on the role of a best friend and Theodore finds himself talking to her about anything. They exchange secret stories and share intimate feelings. Soon a desire grows between the two that transcends wires, bolts and machinery.

The inevitable happens, Man and Machine fall in love. The next progression is of course: sex! He together with his body and she with her disembodied voice. Somehow it works and both have a turn on. Samantha cements the act by asking coyly, "Can I watch you sleep again tonight?"

 Scarlett Johansson is perfect as the artificial female voice. Her greatest act of love for Theodore can be said to be when she single-handedly selects, edits, and sets up a publisher for a collection of his love letters.

But then the cracks appear when Theodore withdraws from the sexual surrogate Isabella (Portia Doubleday) the OS finds to stand-in for her as a lover.

Her far superior ability to evolve, to improvise and to even create musical numbers, leaves Theodore gasping for breath far behind. But perhaps what was most damaging to their love is Samantha’s relationships with hundreds of other human beings.

As the film draws to a close, Amy leaves us all with a thought that can be pondered deeply - "We are only here briefly. And while we're here, I want to allow myself joy."

As a footnote, ‘Her’, directed by Spike Jonze has taken the Best Film Award from the National Board of Review of America. It also gave the Best Director’s Award to Jonze.

abc@koreanpress.net

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