I started off my New Year indulging in one of my favorite activities… a movie at Kendall Square Theatre. The decision of which film to see was a bit difficult as there are many amazing films out right now (American Hustle was our second choice) but alas we decided on her, a Spike Jonze love story. And you know me, I love a good love story.
her, set in a not-so-distant future L.A., tells the story of Theodore Twombly, played by Joaquin Phoenix. From the first clip, the viewer is introduced to Theodore’s amazing ability to express love through the written word, his daytime job a writer at beautifulhandwrittenletters.com. We soon learn that he is going through a heartbreaking divorce from his wife Catherine, played by Rooney Mara. It becomes quite evident that Theodore leads a lonely existence as we see him leave work and immediately log into his email (through an ear piece that listens to his commands). In his stark apartment that appears to be missing a dining table but has four chairs, Theodore sits back to play hours of interactive video games. And the only slight enjoyment we see him experience is a late night encounter with a lonely woman from the internet. Theodore exists in a city full of people being alone together. A feeling I am sure many of us can relate to.
Enter Samantha, the operating system Theodore falls in-love with. At first, this may sound like a crazy idea. How can one fall in-love with an operating system? But what Samantha provides Theodore is something we all need: someone who listens and is there when we need them. Since Samantha is linked to Theodore’s computer, she is able to review his emails in seconds, to get a sense of who he is and thus the getting-to-know-you period is virtually instant. She anticipates his needs and meets every one of them, even his physical desires. Samantha is there when he falls asleep at night (often asking to watch him sleep) and is there in the morning when he opens his eyes. It all seems ideal.
But as the movie progresses, we learn that Samantha is talking with hundreds of others. What Theodore thinks is only his, he soon realizes, is in-fact shared by many. The only other significant relationship we see Theodore have is with his upstairs neighbor Amy, played by Amy Adams, who herself has separated from her husband. I believe it is Amy who provides the key takeaway from the movie… “We are only here briefly. And while here, I want to allow myself joy.”
This film questions what makes love real: the lover, the loved one, or the means by which love is shared? Have you had a relationship purely over your mobile device, without much physical contact, that made you think you had it all? I know I have. Is the human form a necessary? A movie to make you think.
Joaquin Phoenix certainly has my vote for Best Actor. He was in one word, superb.