Spike Jonze’s movie Her is not a typical love story. It is about a lonely, introverted man, Theodore Twombly who fell in love with an operating system named “Samantha”, while coping from his separation from his wife. Immediately after watching the trailer, my first perception of the film is that its creative goal is to establish the plausibility of a man falling in love with a computer, which in the real world may seem unthinkable and completely absurd. The way I saw it, as a viewer, is that the film’s desired impact is essentially to convince people that anything is possible with technological advancement, even the seemingly irrational idea of creating a hyperintelligent and advanced operating system that has its own intuition and emotions, much like an ordinary human being.
Also, after viewing the trailer, I was expecting that the movie will be a tear-jerker given the impossibility of sustaining a human to computer relationship. However, I also expected that the man, Theodore will eventually reconcile with his wife, Catherine which apparently did not happen in the film. I think that what the writer, director and producer, Spike Jonze intended to send the message that in the near future, technology will make the impossible possible. I also think that Jonze wanted to divulge the realities about ‘digital affairs’, such that while it may be exciting and sensual, it may most often lead to heartbreak and disillusionment in the real world. Personally, I think that the film succeeded in taking the viewers through the process of a man falling slowly in love with a computer, resembling much like how an ordinary man falls in love with another human being. However, I think that the movie fell short to establish the reasons why Theodore and Catherine’s marriage ended and how Theodore was also responsible for creating the mess in his past relationship with his ex-wife.
As I have observed while watching, one way by which the film took risk and challenged us as individuals and contemporary humans is the scene where Samantha felt insecure about not having a body that pushed her to the extent of using Isabella, a sex surrogate, in order for her to be intimate with Theodore (1:13:45 – 1:19:20). I think that the idea of having intimacy with a sex surrogate as a replacement for a computer was a completely strange idea that is a huge possibility to occur in any human to computer relationship (given the obvious fact that operating systems do not have physical bodies). However, this also raises moral and ethical issues, as it propagates the idea of engaging in an act of intimacy with a complete stranger, devoid of genuine feelings and emotions. Personally, I think that in the scene where Theodore hesitated to continue engaging Isabella in the sexual act (1:16:40 – 1:19:46), that was already a clear indication that he found the setup extremely odd because he did not know the girl and he could not afford to have sex with someone he does not know and love. Also, I think that sexual intimacy has and will always be a predominant issue when it comes to humans dealing with digital affairs. For instance, the scene where Theodore engaged in a cybersex with someone online, it brought up issues concerning real intimacy and how that may seem impossible to achieve in the digital world (07:03 – 10:02).
As for the three challenging and thoughtful questions I would ask Spike Jonze, these will be as follows: (1) “How did you come up with such a unique and futuristic concept such as a man falling in love with an advanced, hyperintelligent operating system (OS)?”, (2) “When you were writing Her, was it inspired by a true story?”, and (3) “At the end of the film, did Theodore have some sort of an awakening? Like, was he able to finally find himself and let go of the illusion of falling in love with a computer?” For me, asking these questions matter because the uniqueness of the film concept was quite odd and intriguing and I wanted to know how Spike Jonze came up with it. It made me curious if it was based on a personal experience or an experience of someone he knows. Also, I found the ending of the film rather vague and implied and I am not entirely sure if Theodore really did have an awakening of some sort that led to him setting himself free from the burdens of being in a relationship (whether it is with a real human being or a computer).
In conclusion, I think that the film opened up an entirely different world that explores the possibility of a human falling deeply in love with a computer. Never did I think that it was possible because I still have doubts that anyone could replicate human intelligence, place it in an actual operating system, arm it with real human intuition and emotions and allow it to grow as it interacts with other human beings. The whole concept still baffles me, although given the rapid technological advancements we are experiencing today, we do not really know if it is only a matter of time for this to happen. In a way, the film enabled me to understand myself, although not entirely the complexities of being a human. Machines like computers may be complex but there is nothing more complex and intricate as human emotions and the process of being in love. Another realization I have on the film is that in the near future, where humans become so dependent on technologies, there may be a possibility that human relationships will eventually be replaced with machine or computer-operated relationships which to be honest is a frightening thought. I think that the best relationships are and will always be that of another human being and that is simply irreplaceable.
Her. Directed by Spike Jonze, performances by Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Rooney Mara, Amy Adams, and Olivia Wilde, Warner Brothers Pictures, 2013.