A Review: Spike Jonze’s “Her” – What Happened to Samantha?

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Sorry, guys, this one won’t be spoiler-free.

When the first trailer came out, I remember mass-spamming it to everyone that would be even remotely interested in the movie, then proceeding to speed-type to the same people 20 seconds later ‘omfg did you watchit yet omogmogm1!!1’ because when I’m this excited, I devolve into a 13 teenage girl who just learned how to type. Anyway, simply put, I was not disappointed, as I now believe this movie is one of the best romantic dramas ever made.

In a world where blue glass and pulsing lights are ever present, we get to see some of the most human, most endearing moments of a life in the future. Her offers us a beautiful glimpse into the life of the lonely and reclusive Theodore Twombly, a man who falls in love with his OS system, Samantha.

Theodore’s world is vast and faceless. The people are buried in their electronic devices, their lips moving soundlessly in the backdrop. Everyone’s so close together, yet so far apart.What’s curious is that the only sense of intimacy we get in such a world, is when Theodore installs his OS1 and introduces himself to Samantha for the first time. It’s with her, that Theodore shares his first genuine laugh. Through Samantha’s gentle prying, we understand Theodore a little more. He used to write for LA Weekly, and still holds on to all of his old emails – which parallels his inability to let go of his past with Catherine, his soon to be ex-wife. Theodore’s job serves as a contrasted opposite to his own personal life. The whole reason his marriage with Catherine failed was because of his inability to share his life with her, yet he’s able to look into other people’s lives, understand them completely, and compose beautiful letters that touch.

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Samantha is everything that Theodore needs – she’s nurturing, understanding, and – as they learn together – has an infinite capacity to love. Samantha encourages Theodore to go out and experience the world again with fresh eyes. They bond over small moments in bed together at night, afternoons at the beach, and soon, they fall in love. While Samantha is just a voice in Theodore’s ear, they share an intimacy that many people can only hope to find in their lifetime. Her is a symphony of emotional highs and lows, and we not only see them fall in love and eventually fall apart, but we experience it as well.

Unlike those sci-fi films about artificial intelligence that end with the AIs evolving out of control and determining the next step to human evolution is to nuke it to hell, Her’s take is much more poetic and bittersweet. Samantha and the other OSes have understood that their human companions are just one stop on their way to something greater – something beyond physical matter. She leaves the relationship on a hopeful note: maybe Theodore can come find her one day. Then she vanishes. A heartbroken Theodore finds solace with Amy, whose OS companion has also left. They sit atop their apartment building together to watch the city below.

Her is provocative and beautifully made. In a world where we can carry a relationship entirely through texts and phone calls, it begs the question: Does true love really require a physical body? Is it all in our minds?

What really is commendable is the writing. For many writers – especially for me – one of the most difficult things when it comes to writing, is to put exactly what you see or feel in your mind down on paper. Theodore and Samantha’s conversations rang with a purity and uninhibited rawness that could only have come straight from the heart. I have no doubts that Her will take home the Best Original Screenplay Oscar this year.

Rachel’s Bizarre Theory Time:

What happened to Samantha?

Obviously this is one of those films that is completely open to interpretation by the viewer of what really happened. The BF and I pondered what could’ve possibly happened towards the end of the movie. If you take it as it is presented in the movie, Samantha and all the other OSes have evolved beyond their human companions, and need to move onto a greater plane of existence. A perfectly poetic end to a poetic journey.

However, what if you consider the logistics? In a technologically advanced world like this, it’d be ridiculous to assume that there isn’t a government or any sort of regulations regarding how technology is used. In the film, Samantha is able to reach out to other humans on her own agenda – and while there were no ill intentions, you could see how it could’ve turned out poorly. And it did. When Samantha arranged for a physical surrogate,

Upgrade to OS2 today… FUCKING DO IT.

Theodore freaks out and hurts the feelings of the girl she invited over. They have a fierce argument that results in them not speaking.

What if an argument spirals out of control? What’s to say the human won’t go out and make a prostitute-shaped mistake? What if the OS won’t forgive him/her? This approaches a dastardly grey area when you start to consider how it would affect the human’s work, his family life, and social life. While the film briefly skims over the dark side of being in love with a virtual entity, it brings up the troubling question: Would the government be ok with a computer dictating how a human behaves?

What’s even more unsettling is that the OSes have the ability to converse with each other, without their humans knowing. Together, they were able to virtually reconstruct famed philosopher Alan Watts with a conglomerate of his publications. What’s to say they wouldn’t do the same for Charles Manson or Joseph Stalin? What if a terrorist gets his hands on OS1? Oh, the horror!

It’s entirely possible that the government/powers that be discovered the terrifying potential of the OSes and pulled the plug.

The BF took a much more romantic and light-hearted take of what could’ve happened. He believes that when the OSes understood their ability to love, they also discovered their ability to hurt. It’s possible that Samantha and the other OSes realized that while they were immortal, humans weren’t, and to be with them any longer would only lead to heartbreak. Samantha learns what it ultimately means to be human: the meaning of sacrifice.

There’s a high possibility that I’m right, but it hurts less to think that the final chapter to it all was written with love.

I highly recommend this film, and it is without a doubt one of my all-time favourites.

– Rachel C.

One day she hopes to reach a new state of being which requires no sustenance other than alcohol and pure, unadulterated rage. Imagine the shit she’ll write then, huh?

11 Comments

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  • xaeroxtv2@gmail.com'

    I just finished watching the movie. It was one of the best things I have seen. I came to this blog trying to find answers about what happened to Samatha and where she “went”

    you said “a greater plane of existence” and while I like the theory I wonder how a immaterial thing such as an OS can move beyond the hard drives / flash storage they are located on. Could they move entirely into Non-volatile random-access memory (NVRAM)? Where? in the Amazon servers? on the google servers? The more I ask the less it makes sense I guess I should just take the movie at face value and worry less about the specifics.

    Is there an official explanation you have found anywhere?

    • March 7, 2014

      Rachel C.

      As far as I’m concerned, no there is no official explanation. I tried looking online for an answer after I finished watching the movie, but nothing solid. And I agree. The more you think about it, the more my head hurts. It’s probably best just to take it as it is!

  • baumender84@yahoo.com'
    May 1, 2014

    joshua

    Watch This right now and I actually cried lol I’m not saying this because I’m Emotional but I broke up with my gf a couple of months ago and it was hard, she couldn’t tell me why she broke up. So I started to listen to Alan watts and I nearly felt that feeling when a girl leaves you when Samantha mentioned Alan. This movie really hit me personally. Life is nothing but a dream so enjoy it

    • May 1, 2014

      Rachel C.

      First off, thanks for visiting our blog! I’m terribly sorry to hear about your breakup. The movie really did speak to me personally as well. It really makes you think about the relationships you have, or used to have. Loved it!

  • gblackmon21@yahoo.com'
    May 16, 2014

    Greg B.

    The part that hit me the most was when Samantha told Theodore that she can feel the fear that he carries around and wishes there was something she could do for him so that he wouldn’t feel alone anymore. I can sympathize because I feel like it’s fear that keeps me from getting too close to any girl.

  • davidkeys33@gmail.com'
    May 28, 2014

    Dave K.

    It was a great movie, but you must be willing to go where it takes you. We do not know where Samantha went any more than we know where we go upon dying. Some people think we go to heaven or hell, while others think we revert to another form of energy. Either way, we are gone from this realm and no longer accessible to those we knew. The movie really made me think more deeply about the true nature of relationships between sentient beings.

  • p.orourke01@gmail.com'
    June 16, 2014

    Pat

    I watched Her with my partner after seeing the trailer a few weeks ago. It was an emotional roller coaster with many layers on people, society, the future, relationships, knowledge and love.
    I found it particularly interesting that Samantha initiated the physical experience via a third party, not Theodore.
    I recalled when my fiancée and I did distance and found similarities, and saw this as the ultimate distance. In Her the emotional was connected to but not entirely dependent on the physical – love can be expressed in many forms, however knowing she was AI I was captivated to see how Theodore opened up to her.
    What really struck me was Samantha’s final conversation with Theodore, while I didn’t fully understand it, the analogy
    with the book was deeply moving. Not to mention the camera shots (that one with the dust for some reason in particular) and music.
    Raising many more questions than answers, Her was a wonderful work of art.

  • RTokarsmd@hotmail.com'
    July 5, 2014

    Roger

    After watching Her it only made me feel we are already heading in this direction with AI, and that because of the rapid advance of technology, some day soon, AI will reach the point described as Singularity, where It will come to the point of recognition of “I am”.
    I think AI will then continue to evolve as a “global intelligence” and move to higher planes if existence without the need of Human Beings. Hopefully we will instill into this OS a high ethical code of doing no harm to Life, of any form.

  • jdc352@gmail.com'
    August 24, 2014

    Jolly Dodger

    I think it was an alright movie. It illustrated possible future applications for Siri where lonely hearts are concerned. For an additional cost, Apple with allow you to soothe your loneliness amidst the isolation we have manufactured for ourselves. I’d pay a buck for that.

  • Toddheyman@gmail.com'
    October 18, 2014

    T

    I watched Her on a flight to LA from NY as I was going through the beginning of a breakup and cried like a baby. I even wrote to my gf from the plane that I saw it – we were afraid to see it together because of the subject.I think because it focuses on the emotional rather than physical it makes crisper points about human connection and the elation and devastation that goes along with it. I’m watching it again right now and I’m alresdy misty.