With the Oscars ceremony taking place in a few hours time, this was the last of the best film nominees I had left to see, and what was a very, very strong category for me has just become even more so. It’s from writer/director Spike Jonze and takes place in an immediate future that, from the technology on display, feels like it is taking place just around the corner from where we are now. Here we meet Theodore, played wonderfully by Joaquin Phoenix (who was perfect for the part), who is about to be treated to the latest innovative piece of computer software to hit the globe in the guise of an artificially intelligent operating system for his computer.
After only briefly hesitating over whether to choose a male or a female program, he is soon greeted by the sultry tones of Scarlett Johansson emanating from his computer and, understandably, he soon falls in love with ‘her’. The story thusly plays on the idea of love and the parameters of normal relationships as Theodore finds he doesn’t really need anything physical but rather someone who is completely attentive to his needs and engages him mentally, and yet he also has the option of turning her off whenever he wants to. Or at least, in the beginning he does, as the story along with the AI continues to evolve, throwing more and more food for thought at the audience.
A couple of parts of the film don’t hold up as well as the rest, the most egregious of them being when Theodore is on a date with Olivia Wilde who’s starting to feel him up but then asks a fairly reasonable question about him taking her seriously and he bottles it. If Olivia Wilde has her hands down your pants and asks if you are going to be nice to her, you simply say YES!. Or nod your head, or groan affirmatively, this is not a scenario where there is any doubt or need to think about it. Shortly before this he implies that he could be her dragon, which she likes the sound of. Must. Interview. Her.
This is an artfully delicate and incisive film with well balanced and intelligent use of its sci-fi premise, and it may just provide an upset at the Oscars …