I’ve never felt anything like what I felt while watching ‘her’, the new Spike Jones movie, tonight. I hated it. Hate isn’t strong enough – my reaction was visceral and antsy. I couldn’t sit still, wanted to clutch at the walls, leave and gulp in the smoggy king street air. The only other time I’ve written on here about a movie, it was the making me feel part that I loved. Tonight, post-movie, I know that I’m alive, but it isn’t dreamy wistfulness flowing through my veins.
Can I talk about it yet? I don’t know. Han and I talked about it the whole way home, trying to figure out what on earth it wanted us to feel. I was told I would love it, in capital letters and exclamation marks, and I badly wanted to. But I rack my brains and for the life of me don’t know what there could be to love*, except the way it churns you up because everything and everyone in it was so detestable.
The hyperbole. I type in short, frustrated bursts. The words don’t come. This is only sort-of what I mean.
First things first (or seventeenth, after the ranting), I can’t recommend it. Quite apart from anything else it’s awkwardly, uncomfortably obscene in parts. This isn’t a “I can’t tell you to watch it, but I hope you will”. Seriously, don’t. Or do whatever you want, but be warned.
It would be easy to say that’s why I don’t like it. It isn’t my taste, I’m too sheltered, pursed lips and tut tuts. But that isn’t it. None of the pieces between breathed any kind of life, any kind of redemption or beauty or richness or hope. It was utterly, unashamedly, self-consciously bleak. Endless shots of isolated people utterly alone in the middle of a people sea.
The movie is about technology and reality, set in the near future in which a man falls in love with his operating system. It’s about relationships and love and endings and connection and being completely miserable. It might be about none of those things really, but that’s what I got. It’s possible I don’t get it, but not for want of trying.
I think it was a comment on what relationships are, peddling the idea that our definition is too narrow, that connection and communication and fulfillment don’t have to be human to human, beating heart to beating heart. But then those laborious shots of people talking into their earpieces and zigzagging through an ignored crowd of other people with earpieces, like robots on a sick conveyer belt to the depths of loneliness, makes me think it wants us to see the flaws in a girlfriend whose hand you can’t hold.
I love it for that, for making me hate everything artificial so much, even for just a moment. Through the course of the movie I thought about the time I spend staring at my iPhone screen and felt repulsed and bewildered. Like shaking the water out of your ears and hearing clearly, for a second. I wanted to throw my phone into a river, for the sizzle, pop and silence. I wanted a movie technology apocalypse so that it ended in a field with bare feet and warm skin and unpretentious words and real people to feel it.
I felt weary and overwrought by the tedium of the relationships explored, the depressing minutiae of falling out of love, the endless stream of words that made up their hopeless exchanges. Even the love was nervous-giggle, are you serious, cringe-worthy. Sweet nothings – never has that been truer – whispered in an agreeable tone that never wavered, never felt anything other than vanilla.
Ultimately the message was utterly selfish – life is short, you will always be disappointing someone, so seek joy. The message was sobering – if you seek it in yourself, give in to your need to be the most important person in your universe, you will be wretched and unsatisfied forever.
It reminded me of many things, but most importantly of the need for others in a world of me. For community in a world of conceit. For my incredible need to be smaller in my own estimations. It reminded me, finally, that when we are left to ourselves, humans, we are completely without redemption. There is no spark or light of hope or tinge of warmth or undertone of mercy.
Whatever comes, is given, from outside. Nothing is kindled. There is nothing to build upon. It may be cliché in this bible college student’s blog, but never have I ever been more thankful for Jesus, the light who cuts into the foamy black darkness. Never have I ever been more thankful for his death which was for every single instance of my me-exalting, God-ignoring.
Never have I ever been more thankful for the hope that spills into this starving world, that because of Jesus there is life that satisfies the deepest desires of our desperate souls.
“Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to your cross I cling. Naked, come to you for dress. Helpless, look to you for grace. Foul, I to the fountain fly. Wash me Saviour, or I die”.
*it’s possible I’m the only one in the world who feels this way. Critics are salivating over it. I won’t quit my day job 😉