‘Her’ has been recounted by many as a masterpiece in modern romance films. Depicting a lonely man, recovering from the breakdown of his marriage, as he begins a new relationship with a woman that only exists as voice in a machine.
Theodore’s profession, and introduction to the film as a surrogate letter writer, portray a man that embraces and romanticises the relationships of others, inserting himself into their lives, only for the briefest and sweetest of moments. Contrasted with his own situation, and his long failed marriage, Theodore’s everyday life is one of loneliness, rather than solitude. Only interacting with others when he needs to, the frequency to which his friends repeat the line, “We haven’t seen you in a while”, compounds his self inflicted isolation. At this stage in his life, the closest thing to a relationship he is capable of is anonymous phone sex, that at times, is just as disturbing to him. The introduction of Samantha to his world, not only excites his curiosity as to how such a being could exist, but broadens his world by giving him someone completely new, in a form that he has become familiar with, but under a new paradigm, a genuine connection rather than just one of necessity or carnal comfort.
Theodore and Samantha are opposites in regards to their treatment of a relationship. While Theodore carries the scars and pain of his previous loves, almost traumatised by them, Samantha can approach it with a completely new and fresh perspective, with a million questions and curiosities that she feels compelled to explore. Samantha’s drive and passion drags Theodore out of the mundane existence he had built for himself and gives him something to feel excited about. While the relationship is between that of a man and a machine, they stand as equals. The physical aspect of their relationship is a stumbling block along the way, leading to scenes that can be equally as uncomfortable for the audience as they are for Theodore, they use the incident to grow as a couple. Giving Theodore a whole new perspective on life and love when it’s all over.
The fact that Theodore is human and Samantha is a machine, is treated with far more understanding by many than one would initial assume. The films near future setting takes our current position into account. A world where communication across vast oceans is as simple as pressing a button, where a friendship or even a relationship can be built with the two parties having never physically met, and a pop culture rich with stories of human/A.I. relations, both good and bad. It is not hard to see why someone would fall in love with another that they never see, or how A.I. can come to develop their own understanding of emotion, want and desire. They are all deeply personal aspects of ourselves. Cultivated and developed through our experiences. While Theodore re-examines his, Samantha discovers her own. Allowing both to grow beyond what they believed was their limits.
The film is wonderfully scored by the music of Arcade Fire, giving a beautiful and haunting soundtrack that is equal parts loving and isolating. Becoming a perfect companion to the film and for external listening. Highly recommended for relaxation.
The film tackles the idea of love in the digital age, with the same serious thought and stunning cinematography as the classic works. Approaching a topic that not all may be comfortable with, but is a necessity to consider, as the digital world continues to become physical.