Gentle dude, simultaneously steeped in self-help and emotionally clueless per the modern manner, falls in love with the perfect woman, a computer programmed to like him. Nice conceit — Pygmalion in the Matrix — and a lot of ink’s been spilled on it, so I’ll skip the obvious commentary about “modern love” and “our contemporary moment” and just mention my disappointment with the extreme gynophobia of this supposedly enlightened hipster enterprise. In the end, the message here is that not only are real women terrifying and incomprehensible, so are artificial women created exclusively to serve men. Sad movie in all the ways Jonze intended and a number of ways he almost certainly didn’t.
Here, let me put this as concisely as I can: How many more stories where we’re expected to care about the emotional travails of a man-child who’s terrified by confident women and utterly without self-awareness?
Look at him there on the poster: Surrounded by accolades and still so confused and sad. Isn’t he adorable?
Now that I think about it, Jonze has really hit on a elegant solution to the problem of terrifying women. He’s made a movie where the hyper-intelligent, hyper-sexual, and therefore hyper-intimidating woman is literally invisible! So much easier to deal with than the breathing and eating kind. Though still of course impossible to deal with. Because, you know, women.
I will say that the mise-en-scène here is terrific. Gorgeous Portra colors and brilliantly subtle suggestions of a Los Angeles fully recognizable yet eerily skewed into a near future. And there are some sweetly off-kilter passages of dialogue that make me smile. But mostly this is just a wallow in very old-fashioned gender stereotyping, dressed up in a few postmodern tropes.
Actually, I guess now that I think about it there’s just as much misandry as misogyny. Everyone’s such a type. Bleh.