Howdy fellow film lovers. I find myself once again on the beautiful island of Gozo without access to a moving picture house; so I am re-examining thoughts on my favourite films. I read a wonderful essay by George Orwell recently where he states, “What have you in common with the child of five whose photograph your mother keeps on the mantlepiece? Nothing, except that you happen to be the same person”. And it got me thinking about all the times I have seen films more than once and had a very different reaction each time. So with this in mind, I sat down to re-watch Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’. The first time I thought it was simply marvellous, as I said briefly a few weeks back after my beloved erudite editor Esther gave me a list of the top one hundred films to watch. As I wholeheartedly agreed and a brief critique appeared in my shortlist, I felt a subsequent viewing and a longer examination was necessary.
The premise is a simple one you will be pleased to know. Set in Los Angeles in the near future, Theodore Twombly, (I know, you love it already, admit it), is a writer who provides love letters for couples who cannot find the words themselves. He and his wife split up a year ago, and he is yet to sign the divorce papers. He is moping about feeling sorry for himself when he buys a new computer operating system a bit like Apple’s Siri and falls head over heels in love. Okay, I fear I may have lost some of you at this point. But bear with. This is no science fiction extravaganza, this is a simple tale of love, and a beautifully told one at that.
Looking at it from a critical point of view, it is exquisitely shot, has an incredibly intimate soundtrack, the locations (filmed mainly in China) are superb, and the casting is second to none. A little side note here for fellow film buffs, the simply sublime Samantha Morton provided the original voice for the operating system and was on set the entire time. When filming finished, writer and director Spike Jonze realised he had miscast the role and asked Scarlett Johnansenn to re-record the entire script; which she did with Samantha Morton’s blessing. If ever you want an example of an actor without an ego, look no further than Ms Morton. I digress, forgive me. The real beauty here lies in Jonze’s script, which he deservedly won an Oscar for, when they still mattered, that is.
Samantha asks Theodore about his relationship with his wife Catherine, and he opens up to her about the mistakes he made. One line is simply perfect in its succinctness, “I think I hid myself from her, I left her alone in the relationship”. How many of us have done that? How many people are so scared of losing their loved ones, they never reveal all of themselves? This love story is one of total honesty and reciprocity however, as Samantha falls right back in love with Theodore as she realises how kind and compassionate he is. She falls for his sensitivity when he admits, “Sometimes I look at people, and make myself feel them as more than just a random person walking by. I imagine how deeply they might have fallen in love, or how much heartache they’ve all been through”. Who wouldn’t fall in love with someone with such an incredible worldview?
I am not going to spoil this gem of a film for you, but I will say it will make you examine the true nature of love. If you are in a relationship, watch this film and ask yourself “is this love, or attachment?”. The two dwell in very different worlds. This is a wonderful examination of accepting change in those we love, and loving them regardless. Which takes me back to the Orwell quote at the beginning. The person you fall in love with will change as you grow old together, but they will always be the person you fell in love with too. Encourage them, support them, love them no matter what. Because as Samantha declares, “The heart is not like a box that gets filled up, it expands in size the more you love”. And by Jove, I think she might be right.
God Save the Queen. Lord bless you all. Same time next week time fellow film lovers