I realize this is an incredibly late movie review, but I finally got around to seeing Her last night. I had read some feminist critiques of the movie, which made me, honestly, more interested; how the protagonist doesn’t have to deal with the messy, real-life consequences of an actual relationship, how this is maybe indicative of where we are heading, relationship-wise. I don’t necessarily disagree: there’s some good critical analysis floating around the internet. I guess more than review, it’s kind of a collection of thoughts. Here we go.
Visually, this movie is gorgeous. The color palettes are so bright and interesting; I especially love Theodore’s office, with the bright mobiles and green chairs. The characters exist in a beautifully constructed world; from the tree shadow elevator to Theodore’s apartment, there doesn’t seem to exist a ugly piece of architecture in this near future. Everything is so clean, so pleasant to look at. It made me wonder what has been done about poverty in this world–was it eliminated? Or, more likely, shuffled to somewhere out of sight?
Jonze’s way of shooting flash-backs elicited teary eyes on my part, maybe because how the movie shows flashbacks is how most people experience them–no sound, just the memory, pieced together in a collage kind of way. I love that. Theodore’s memories of his ex-wife especially rang true. Sun-dappled afternoons spent in bed, the breeze blowing through the window. A smile from the one you love, a night you didn’t sleep. It’s always the best memories, of course; when Theo is signing the divorce papers with his former lover, that becomes abundantly clear. He has refused to sign, to hold on to some piece of what they had. But what do they have now? Nothing.
Juxtapose his failed marriage with his job, which is writing heart-felt letters for other people, and compare it to his relationship with Samantha, the operating system he falls in love with–what is real emotion? Can we even trust ourselves, or others, when it comes to love and all that? Theo married his wife because they loved each other, but it obviously wasn’t enough. Yet these marriages and relationships continue through the letters he writes, and not that these people don’t love each other, but they have hired someone else to write their letters, their stories, for them. Samantha comes in after Theo has been alone after the marriage fell apart, and she has offered something real for him. And not only real for him, but for her as well; she is self-aware, and wants to learn and grow. What does that leave us with? Samantha isn’t a person, but everything else about her rings true.
The movie was very timely, I think. A reflection on technological advances, to be sure, but more about modern life and the isolation that comes with it. Theo, and others around him, live side by side, not talking to one another. Is this a symptom or a cause of our modern ennui and loneliness? I’m not really sure.