Updated: Sep 16, 2021
One of the most interesting films I’ve come across is Her (2013), a romantic drama set in the future starring Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson. The film begins with a man named Theodore who works at a company where he writes letters for other people who can’t write themselves. Every night after work, rather than hanging out with his co-workers, Theodore goes home to his empty apartment where he passes time by playing video games or browsing virtual sex forums on the internet. He often reflects on his failed relationship with his ex-wife. To combat his loneliness, he buys an A.I. software assistant who he gives a female voice. The A.I. introduces herself as Samantha and claims that she can grow and evolve through her experiences. The two experience life together, walking around the city, and even playing video games together. Theodore opens up to Samantha about his past relationship, and the two grow even closer and shortly begin dating.
When I first watched the film, I was going through a very personal time in my life and I deeply sympathized with Theodore. However, when I watched the movie again as a more balanced adult, I began to see the flaws in Theodore’s character. He had a failed relationship with his previous wife due to not wanting to commit and fully take responsibility in a relationship to make it work, rather he just expects it to remain in the honeymoon phase forever. During a scene where Theodore signs the divorce papers with his ex-wife, she says that he doesn’t want to handle the difficulties of a real relationship and human emotions. I feel this is relatable to a lot of lonely people who wish to be in a relationship, but do not understand the complexities and difficulties in making it work. The character of Samantha is often criticized as a manic pixie dream girl trope, seeing how she teaches the depressed Theodore to experience in life and its quirky adventures fully. While certain elements of the trope do apply to Samantha, she is the one experiencing the joys of life with Theodore and in the end, she and the other A.I.’s ascend to a higher plane of existence beyond our physical realm, ultimately leaving Theodore.
There are many themes one can take away from the movie. You can see it as a romantic drama exploring the feelings of love between an A.I. software and a human, conversely, you can also see the film as a movie about the ever-growing use of technology and how our relationship with technology can change and develop. The way I see this film now is that it’s ultimately a story about personal growth and learning how to deal with a relationship. A lot of people want to be in a relationship, but they often don’t know what has to be done to keep a relationship going strong. Both partners have to contribute to make it work, hence why it’s called a relationship. Overall, I think Her (2013) is one of the most complex and introspective movies I’ve seen and I recommend it to anyone who have went or are going through tough or lonely times.