Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
The Totally Insane Ending to 'Little Boy' Has Critics Fuming The Totally Insane Ending to 'Little Boy' Has Critics Fuming 'Mad Men' Has Ended Four Episodes in a Row With the Same Shot 'Mad Men' Has Ended Four Episodes in a Row With the Same Shot First Reviews of 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' First Reviews of 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' "Mad Men" Probably Won't End the Way You Want It To. Get Used to It "Mad Men" Probably Won't End the Way You Want It To. Get Used to It The Only Oral History of 'Mad Men' You Ever Need to Read. Ever. The Only Oral History of 'Mad Men' You Ever Need to Read. Ever. Daily Reads: 'Ex Machina's Feminist Sci-Fi, Native American Actors Call Adam Sandler's Movie Racist, and More Daily Reads: 'Ex Machina's Feminist Sci-Fi, Native American Actors Call Adam Sandler's Movie Racist, and More The Death-by-Skype Horror Movie 'Unfriended' Is an Unlikely Critical Hit The Death-by-Skype Horror Movie 'Unfriended' Is an Unlikely Critical Hit L.A. Times' Mary McNamara Wins Pulitzer for Criticism L.A. Times' Mary McNamara Wins Pulitzer for Criticism Criticwire Survey: 'Star Wars' Memories Criticwire Survey: 'Star Wars' Memories The Children's Book from 'The Babadook' Will Terrify You in the Real World The Children's Book from 'The Babadook' Will Terrify You in the Real World A Writer From The Onion Totally Destroys Patton Oswalt in This Epic Twitter Rant A Writer From The Onion Totally Destroys Patton Oswalt in This Epic Twitter Rant Why Andrew Jarecki's 'The Jinx' Could Be Very, Very Bad for Documentaries Why Andrew Jarecki's 'The Jinx' Could Be Very, Very Bad for Documentaries Daily Reads: 'Wonder Woman' and the State of Female Directors in Hollywood, A Grimdark 'Daredevil,' and More Daily Reads: 'Wonder Woman' and the State of Female Directors in Hollywood, A Grimdark 'Daredevil,' and More Daily Reads: How The Hype Machine Is Ruining Movies, Why Kevin James Movies Have a Kevin James Problem, and More Daily Reads: How The Hype Machine Is Ruining Movies, Why Kevin James Movies Have a Kevin James Problem, and More Daily Reads: Why No One Remembers "Avatar," the Best Blu-rays and DVDs of 2014, and more Daily Reads: Why No One Remembers "Avatar," the Best Blu-rays and DVDs of 2014, and more Daily Reads: 'Full House' and the Dead End of Nostalgia, How the Children of the '70s Killed the Movies, and More Daily Reads: 'Full House' and the Dead End of Nostalgia, How the Children of the '70s Killed the Movies, and More The A.V. Club Picks the 100 Best Movies of the Decade; 'The Master' Tops the List The A.V. Club Picks the 100 Best Movies of the Decade; 'The Master' Tops the List The Scrambled Sexuality of 'Frozen's "Let It Go" The Scrambled Sexuality of 'Frozen's "Let It Go" 'Simpsons' Showrunner Al Jean Says No Further Seasons Will Be Released on DVD 'Simpsons' Showrunner Al Jean Says No Further Seasons Will Be Released on DVD Why the Unanimous Praise for 'Boyhood' Is Bad for Film Criticism — and for 'Boyhood' Why the Unanimous Praise for 'Boyhood' Is Bad for Film Criticism — and for 'Boyhood'

'Her': The OS as Digital Deity

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire December 20, 2013 at 3:19PM

Can Spike Jonze's techo-romantic fable be read in spiritual terms as well?
0
Her

Most of the country won't get to see Spike Jonze's Her until January, but the film, which has placed high in several polls, opens in New York and Los Angeles today, and with it comes a wave of positive reviews. I was particularly struck by Brett McCracken's take in Christianity Today, which views what most critics (including this one) have read as a story about technology and love in theological terms. In her omniscience, Samantha -- the artificially intelligent operating system voiced by Scarlett Johansson -- is indeed somewhat Godlike, although she covets a way of making physical contact with recently divorced Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix). But there's an aspect that separates her from the Christian God, as McCracken explains.

Which brings us back to Her as a film about incarnation (if not the Incarnation). In a sense, Samantha is a "god" who takes up tiny form: a pocket sized phone with a red camera "eye" (nodding to Hal 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey). She assumes some qualities of humanity. Some, but not all: limitation, for example, and flesh—breakable, huggable, crucifiable flesh.

There's something important here for Christians to note: whereas Samantha is pure knowledge, pure data, pure word, Christ is the Word made flesh (John 1:14). God could have chosen to reveal himself to us solely through cerebral means, offering concepts and knowledge to help us along (perhaps through an OS?). But instead he took on flesh to dwell with us relationally and incarnationally, breathing and eating and dying like we do. Immanuel. God-with-us. Does that make a difference?

It makes all the difference.

I don't think Her is as judgmental about its "nontraditional sex scenes" as McCracken does; in fact, it's most interesting when it reserves judgments and plays through the relationship between Theodore and Samantha in logical rather than allegorical terms. (Bodied or not, the fights they have sound awfully familiar.) But with its clean lines and empty spaces, Her leaves plenty of room for different interpretations, and there will be many more of those to come.

This article is related to: Spike Jonze, Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson


E-Mail Updates



Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome