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Retrospective Film Review: Spike Jonze’s I’m Here

Saturday 18 January 2014

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Before Her, Spike Jonze directed this similar tale of artificially intelligent love, a bewitching little short as a promotional piece for Absolut Vodka, but don’t let that put you off.

Loosely based on The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, I’m Here stars Andrew Garfield as Shel, a Macintosh-headed librarian whose only comfort seems to be his achromatic apartment to which he retires at the end of each working day to recharge himself. In this strange world in which robots and humans inexplicably live together, he meets Francesca (Sienna Guillory) – a newer model, a dreamer and something of a dab hand at crafting tissue paper animals. The pair fall in love, portrayed in true Jonzian style via the lightest of touches.

Sonny Gerasimowicz’s robot designs achieve unbelievably affecting results from the simple CG widening of eyes or narrowing of mouths. On top of which, Garfield and Guillory’s casual voiceovers seem to be taken from offscreen outtakes during which the pair seem to be genuinely falling in love. Her employs a similar trick with the way in which Scarlett Johansson effortlessly embodies Samantha, alluringly upending our preconceptions about the way artificial life should behave and sound.

Whilst the allegorical lesson is blunt, I’m Here‘s delivery is not. It is at once sincere, authentic, tremendously melancholic and joyously uplifting, and mandatory viewing for anyone who’s ever returned to work with a song in their heart the day after meeting someone extraordinary.

You can watch the entire film here:

Words: Ash Verjee