My Thoughts On The Movie “Her” In Four Thought-Provoking Chapters

18 Jul


Chapter 1: This Movie Seems Right Up My Alley

As one of my favorite movie characters of all-time, Maria Von Trapp, would say: let’s start at the very beginning. Here is the trailer for Her that changed my life (okay, this trailer didn’t at all change my life, it just made me want to see the movie. I felt like it required an unreasonably large build up, for some reason):

It’s not the most action-packed trailer of all-time, but it still made me pretty excited, and here’s why – first of all, Joaquin Phoenix is confusing and delightful and talented. I would call him, confusingly talented in a delightful manner, in fact. Second, the trailer has a hip indie music soundtrack that made me feel like just by watching it, my Klout score will skyrocket. (I checked my Klout score once, and I think it was at a 3 or something, so you can really only go up from there). Lastly, it’s about being in love with a computer so much that you take it out on dates and spin around in a romantic daze in public. That looks so nice!

Her at the fair

If the trailer left you a bit lost, here’s a super quick synopsis – Her is about Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), an introverted guy who works for a company that writes intimate letters on behalf of people unwilling or unable to do so. Like, if you had a crush on the brooding barista at your local Starbucks, but were too shy to say something, then he could write a letter for you that says something like:

“Dear (probably Connor),

You don’t know me, but I know you. Well, you actually might recognize me from my charmingly unique order – a venti half-caf triple-plus extra foamy 85 degree latte with a 3/4 shot of sugar-free caramel and a friendly dollop of whipped cream in a grande cup with 4 cup holders and a straw. Anyway… I thought that we could take this thing to the streets and mix it up with some alcohol. Can we get those to go, too? Ha! Anyway… hit me up on Snapfish if you’re interested (it’s super easy, just upload a photo of yourself giving a thumbs up if you’re interested or a thumbs down if you’re not (boo), send me a link to your album, and then after I view the photo I’ll email you back to confirm). Until then, my sweet, I’ll just have to gaze at you from behind the glaring glass of the pastry case. (Btdubs, if you could put aside an asiago breakfast sandwich, I would SO appreciate it, because they’re always out and it’s suuuuuper frustrating).


(probably Jessica)”

Like that.


Theodore and his wife recently separated, and he is lonely. So lonely, that he turns to the next best thing to the actual company of a woman – an operating system that thinks it’s Scarlett Johansson. The OS has a name (Samantha), and she is designed to continually advance and grow increasingly intelligent and intuitive. Especially in sex talk! (I’ll get to that later). Theodore and Samantha become so close that they’re basically in a relationship and Theodore has to come to terms with the fact that he’s falling in love with a computer. He finally comes clean to his friend Amy (Amy Adams), and she admits that she has become besties with her OS, so it’s totally normal. In response, Theodore is like, Cool! I’m going to treat this like a human dating situation, and we are going to go on double dates with my colleagues and then end the night by having OS/human intercourse (it’s just glorified phone sex, guys, so not to worry. You’re not missing out on some kinky new laptop trick).

Her OS

The rest of the movie is just like any other tale of the ups and downs of a relationship, except this one just happens to be a bit less traditional than most. And actually, I’m pretty in love with my iPhone, so I’m beginning to think it’s not that strange. Would my computer boyfriend text my friends all my thoughts on So You Think You Can Dance? Would he let me play Candy Crush at night in between searching for pictures of kitchens on Pinterest? If the answers are yes and yes, then I don’t see what the problem is.

Chapter 2: Let’s Get Weird!

Her let's get weird

The beginning of the movie sucked me in with all the beauty – L.A. is shot in the most gorgeous ways, Theodore’s apartment is stunning, the colors are vibrant, and everyone is attractive and ethereal looking. Besides all the pretty things to look at, there is something so romantic and heartbreaking about almost every single scene. When Theodore and Samantha talk, I believe that she is a person with feelings and that they can maintain a loving relationship. This movie is winning me over! Even their dates where Samantha is talking from the phone in his pocket while he is just wandering around at the beach and having a casual picnic are not throwing me. I’m not even uncomfortable with the human/OS sex chat. I am into this couple! I would, in fact, like to be the matron of honor in the wedding where only the groom would be present.

This is what I would wear.

This is what I would wear.

Quick side note: let me just make it clear that Her takes place in the future. I’m pretty positive that any of you who have seen it are like, “Yeah duh, Alex. Of course it’s in the future. His video games are, like, in his house, talking to him about his day.” Well, good for you for being more tech savvy than I, but I spent a generous chunk of the movie thinking that this was all happening in the present, and wondered why it was so common that people were walking around talking to their OS’s. That confusion led my brain to be distracted by a whole bunch of questions, such as “Can I get a computer like that at Best Buy, or is that a special website kind of a deal?” and “Why doesn’t my computer ask me about my day and give me sass exactly when I need it?” It just took my mind to a whole other level that it didn’t need to be at. Once I figured out that this was all taking place in some future era, though, I felt more at ease and I could go into the movie with an open mind. I just wanted to save everyone else that grief.

Chapter 3: Let’s Get Less Weird Now.

As you can see from the previous chapter, I was buying everything that the adorable Spike Jonze was selling. But one scene forced me to take a step back and ask myself, “What the hell is happening? And how did we get here? And is this just a fake mockumentary about Joaquin Phoenix falling in love with an OS, but it’s not really happening?”

Joaquin and P Diddyold computer

I’m talking about Isabella, the surrogate sex giver. Things appear to be going swimmingly between Theodore and Samantha, but she begins to fret that perhaps she isn’t enough “woman” for Theodore, if you know what I mean (and I think you do). In order to repair what is not yet broken, Samantha decides to throw in an unexpected twist by hiring a sex surrogate. The sex surrogates are just everyday people who support OS/human relationships, and want to be a part of them anyway they can. Theodore is, rightfully, hesitant about this. It’s like a threesome, except the third person isn’t actually there because they are a computer. So the threesome has morphed into you having sex with a stranger, which some would call infidelity.

Here is the sex surrogate. I would totally hit that! I mean, if my OS was okay with it.

Here is the sex surrogate. I would totally hit that! I mean, if my OS was okay with it.

When Isabella walks in, Theodore tries to make friendly conversation, but Isabella is having none of it. She doesn’t talk, but we get the picture when she puts her finger to her mouth to shush him, and then leaves to start over again. She puts on a little mole, which is a camera, and an earpiece, and Samantha begins to speak through her. So basically, Isabella is a mime who is acting out all of Samantha’s sexy words. Samantha begins to seduce Theodore, therefore Isabella begins to seduce Theodore. At first, he’s pretty into it, but then it hits Theodore that this might end awkwardly. He abruptly stops Isabella and sends her home. She departs, crying in a cab, just like a forsaken contestant on The Bachelor. It was sad. And also made me start to question my belief in this relationship. Shit got real, and I clearly wasn’t prepared to handle it.

After this little snafu, things started to get a bit shaky for Theodore and Samantha. Theodore began to question their future, and Samantha could feel that Theodore was pulling away and that her first attempt at love might be falling apart. Normally, I would feel sad about this, but one important fact dawned on me: THIS IS AN OPERATING SYSTEM. NOT A REAL PERSON. I am all for unconventional relationships, but I felt a little duped that I became so convinced that this was a companionship that could be maintained for a lifetime. In one sense, why not? They were intellectually compatible, they seemed to like wandering around outside together, and Samantha had enough emotional intelligence to engage in deep conversations about life. What else do you need? Well, maybe human touch sometimes. Oh, and the guarantee that some sort of systemic glitch won’t erase your girlfriend forever.

Chapter 4: Well, That Makes More Sense (I Contain Spoilers)

Tumblr Her Chapter 4

Eventually Theodore decides that he and Samantha may be able to make it work, but just like in real life, that’s when Samantha decides that she might want to see what else is out there (which is kind of a big burn, because she is a computer). Theodore starts to get suspicious that there is someone else in the picture, and Samantha admits that she is in love with 641 other people. If that happened to me, I’d make that person list all 641 people, just to make them sweat a little. It would probably go like this: “Okay, Abigail, Allison P., Allison R., Amy A., Amy C., Amy C., Amy C., Amy D., Amy F., Amy H.,…” Actually, now that I write it out, it sounds kind of boring.

Theodore turns to his friend Amy (not related to any of the Amy’s listed above), who is also distraught because her OSBFFAE (Operating System Best Friend Forever And Ever) ditched her, too. Oh, and Amy had also left her husband halfway through the movie, so she is extra alone. In their mutual state of despair, Theodore and Amy head up to Amy’s roof and jump off. Kidding! (Although, there was a questionably large part of me that thought this movie might end in a double suicide, which either says something about the unpredictability of this movie, or a lot about my dark, twisted psyche).

Weird brain

What actually happens is that they sit together and watch the sun go down. I like to make lofty assumptions about what happens after the credits roll, and in this case, I think that Theodore and Amy ended up together. They mention in the beginning that these two dated in college, but it didn’t work out. Well, now is their chance! Both of their computers ditched them for better software, and they’re not getting any younger…

By the end, I was back in love with Her. And super relieved that they decided not to kill themselves. Spike Jonze knows how to be as out there as he wants to be, but just as things start to get a little insane, he also knows how to pull us back in to the gut of the story. Look at Being John Malkovich – that is one of my favorite movies and I don’t know what the hell was happening most of the time! Her was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, so obviously it was the perfect combination of crazy and romantic for the academy, as well. Not only did Her make me happy, it made me really aware of the Sunday coupons – there are always amazing deals on computers and I want one that at least tells me I’m pretty everyday. They make those now, right?



One Response to “My Thoughts On The Movie “Her” In Four Thought-Provoking Chapters”


  1. Understanding AI risk. How Star Trek got talking computers right in 1966, while Her got it wrong in 2013. | Praxtime - May 27, 2015

    […] May 27, 2015AI and NeuroscienceNathan Taylor (praxtime) image source, image […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: