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.
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,
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.