As I tend to find Jonze’s work contrived I didn’t expect much, but I was bowled over by what is a must-see movie for anyone interested in tech or the social sciences or for that matter cinema. Two of its starting premises are a) we as humans now face shadow prices which lead us to deemphasize the physical world of things and live in a world of information, and b) if we are going to have AI, which consumes real resources, which Darwinian principles will govern what kinds of personal assistants survive or do not? Will they enslave us, will they be our dogs, our friends, our trading partners, or something else altogether? This movie is the single best place to start on that question.
The rest is, as they say, solve for the equilibrium. I found the dialogue, performances, and cinematography very strong. The skyline blends Los Angeles and Shanghai. The movie toys with the viewer in a clever manner as to whether it is about the future, the present, or both. Several of the scenes (reluctance to spoil prevents further specificity) were some of the best and most creative and most conceptual movie-making I have seen, ever.
The “sources” for this movie, whether Spike Jonze is aware of them all or not, include Cyrano de Bergerac, various Mermaid legends, Blade Runner, Spielberg’s AI, 2001, Lubitsch’s The Shop Around the Corner, Philip Pullman, Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, Pinocchio, Girard and indeed Shakespeare on the triangulation and intermediation of desire, Electric Dreams, Battlestar Galactica, Annie Hall, and even the Mormon doctrine of the Holy Ghost, as well as Jonze’s previous movies. This is perhaps the most accurate review (some spoilers) I have seen. This too is an insightful review, but the spoilers there are massive. Best is not to read either but just to go see it.
Definitely recommended, for me this was one of the cultural events of the year.