“Her” Redefines the Unconventional Love Story


Do not cross the line. This is the oldest story in the book. From the playground to the workplace, society has been advised to never cross the proverbial line. In an age where society is connected by a constantly evolving technology, it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish where the line actually exists. In fact, where is this new line and have we crossed it yet?

Director Spike Jonez, fresh off the success of “Bad Grandpa”, works in tandem with costume designer Casey Storm and production designer KK Barret to create the world that Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Pheonix) lives in. While many would expect a future Los Angeles to resemble something similar to the style of “The Matrix”, Theodore’s planet is eerily similar to today’s world. The major difference between Theodore’s world and our own is the complete advancement of technology. It becomes apparent that in Theodore’s world, social interaction amongst humans has become obsolete.


The film explores this inevitable growth of technology and its effect on the age-old tale of unrequited love in a not-so-far-off future. The sci-fi drama, opens with Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Pheonix) proclaiming his undying love to an unknown entity. While his declarations serve as a foreshadowing for future events, the audience quickly learns that Theodore’s job is to generate such sentiments. Similar to the way an operating system works, Theodore is expected to produce these emotionally-charged and genuine letters to strangers solely based on the information given to him by his clients.

Reeling from the aftermath of a divorce from his wife (Rooney Mara), Theodore finds himself in a state of depression. Several shots of the movie hone in on him going through his daily routine in a methodical and detached nature. Without even realizing it, the audience develops a camaraderie with Theodore as he checks his email, drinks his coffee, and wanders his local streets.

Salvation comes to Theodore in the form of the world’s first A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) operation system. Enter Samantha. Samantha (Scarlett Johansen) is no ordinary operating system. In fact, she has a silky-smooth voice, a quirky opinion, and an undeniable presence. Although she is without the amenities of a physical body, Samantha appears to be the ultimate woman: nurturing, kind, charming, funny, and responsible without expecting much in return.

Samantha is wired to answer Theodore’s emails and organize his life to make it more manageable. However, after fully immersing herself in Theodore’s life and spending the entirety of his days with him, Samantha develops a very human emotion: curiosity. She yearns to understand the complex nature of humanity. She aches to feel emotion. Her sole portal to the physical world is through sensitive and insecure Theodore. In a classic tale of give and take, these two reel from each other’s input.

Theodore’s physical presence makes up for Samantha’s non-physical presence. While she portrays her emotions through her voice, Joaquin Pheonix does an excellent job of conveying his emotions through his body language.   Jonez expertly illustrates the various mediums of expression on opposite ends of the communication spectrum.

Just as most people are cautious, Theodore acknowledges the risks he is taking when diving into his relationship with Samantha. Just as most people are reluctant to admit the truth, Theodore bypasses these concerns and falls into a state of denial. Ultimately avoiding contact with the outside world, Theodore gives himself to Samantha, perhaps in an attempt to compensate for his failed marriage. As their relationship grows, it becomes apparent that both Samantha and Theodore harbor an insatiable fear of being alone.  The two cling to each other in a wild attempt to satisfy the needs they had both previously wired themselves to stifle.

Perhaps the most interesting facet of the film is that typical issues found in most relationships also arise in Samantha and Theodore’s unconventional connection. Communication, the sole issue that the film revolves around, becomes a problem between the two as they delve further into their journey together. Theodore’s insecurities consume him and Samantha attempts to convey her own feelings through electronically composed music. The struggles that the couple faces adds an undeniable amount of humility to an otherwise futuristic and technological world.

“Her” is a film that evolves as smoothly as the technology does in it. It is not shy in its depiction of the future and the looming threat that current technology poses. It expertly weaves a classic love story between an unconventional pair. “Her” diminishes the proverbial line, just slightly passing it and exploring the possibility of a world without lines. Instead, “Her” suggests a future where technology and humanity can coexist rather than dominate one another.

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