“I think I have felt everything I am going to feel”, says Theodore to Samantha, his gender-assigned female Operating System.
Her is a sci-fi romance, a visual treat and a nice, neat little story of a man coming to terms with his issues and emotional lot in life. It portrays real human emotion, and makes you connect and think and feel, and succeeds splendidly at being an excellent movie.
Theodore Twombly falls in love with Samantha like he would with his therapist, or his secretary. It is like Don Draper and Megan, “It’s nice to be with someone who is so excited about life”, he says. Samantha is Theodore’s perfect companion, happy, seeking his approval while still being entertainingly and charmingly spunky. Their relationship goes back and forth, being each other’s saviors as Theodore suffers love-withdrawal and loneliness, and Samantha deals with her consciousness having no physical form. Samantha saves him from his brooding soul and ennui as she works excellently as an operating system that learns and evolves. She cleans, and cares. She creates, shares and nurtures, and is his exclusive Girl Friday. She is static in her vitality, invigorating as a foil to his incredible sulk. “It’s nice to be with someone who is so excited about life”, he says again.
Her is real in its characters and their development, where an average, predominantly self-involved man finds love in someone who exists to be his assistant and companion. She grows and changes as a consciousness–not beyond him, he begs. Isn’t that the promise that love makes? And when her growth is beyond her help, she tells him poetically that she has outgrown him, and leaves.
For a movie that many perceive as a commentary on the increasing lack of human connection, I am disappointed that it only skims the surface of the timeless epidemic that is human isolation and loneliness. Perhaps a reference to a programmer who jokingly (and shudderingly) says that there are too many lonely people out there to make an intelligent, anthropomorphic operating system; or something more clever and Jonze-like would have done nicely. But is this just what you perceive, the Her team may ask. Am I over-analyzing a slightly draggy, love story between a man and a nice girl he found?
And so, we ask ourselves, why the movie is named Her. Is it because she could’ve easily been a Him? (or a His, pronouns are hard). Is she ‘female’ in all of her other identities, is she a female in all of her other relationships, are we spiraling into an abyss of seeking humanity where it does not exist, driving off course and falling…
Is it because the movie is actually about Amy Adams’ character, struggling and wearing her heart on her sleeve? She has a platonic, nurturing, human relationship with Theodore. She is witty and making money off a job she hates, leaving a husband who smothers her emotionally, this movie shows us her coming of age. She is isolated too, and is in a relationship with an OS, maybe this is Her story.
Or maybe it is because Samantha is only specific enough to be a Her, while being important enough to be Her. Or maybe it is because the movie is actually about Him, but him being saved by Her.