What I'm Watching: Her

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

*Note: I started this post over a year ago and never finished and published it, probably because I felt like I had too much to say about this beautiful film that greatly affected me.  I came across it in my drafts folder recently, and I think I'm ready to share it.  I've tried to leave it as-is, with a few words added at the end to tie-up my review.   

When I first saw a preview for Her, I wasn't too intrigued.  Man falls in love with his computer - meh.  I also wouldn't call myself a Spike Jonze fan, not because I don't like his work, but rather because I actually haven't seen enough to judge it.  I've only seen Adaptation, which I love, but that's hardly enough to form an adequate opinion.  But, as I mentioned previously, my husband and I do like to watch films, and after being disappointed by American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street, we thought we'd give this one a try.

Attempting to sum up my feelings about this film seems like an impossible feat.  I loved every moment of Her. There is something so honest and earnest about this movie.  It is beautiful in its quietness, sadness, and joy.  It feels emotionally raw and exposed, incredibly vulnerable.  Once you set aside its conceit - and I think that the film does this masterfully - Her is, at its core, a meditation on the human experience and our often desperate attempts to find some sort of connection in this world.

To me, Her is kind of like a parable, though it is less focused on illustrating some moral principle than on inviting us to contemplate the most fundamental aspects of our humanity.  I understand that some people won't "get" this film, that perhaps it is too much to ask them to look beyond the ridiculous narrative about man who falls in love with his computer.   But I think that the film invites us to do just that.  Her downplays the technological aspects of "Samantha" (she is primarily located in a small, slender notebook-like device that seems almost primitive compared to our smartphones) and the logistics and stigma surrounding OS and human relationships, choosing instead to embark on a rich emotional journey that plunges the incredible depths of sorrow, joy, isolation, loneliness, relationships, wonder, despair, excitement, loss, love, hope, and contentment.  This film captures something so true and innate about the nature of our existence.  It beautifully and heartbreakingly portrays both the incredible burden and the incredible joy of the human experience.   At times, Her shows its characters almost breaking under the weight of their lives, and yet, they also manage to find hope, joy, and redemption, often in the most unexpected places. 

It's not often that a film moves me in the way that Her did.  I will admit that it doesn't take much for a movie to make me cry, but I usually cry because of the film's plot or what happens to its characters.  In Her, the plot and the characters don't really matter, not in the way that they do in other narratives.  It doesn't matter what Theodore Twombly has lost; it is enough for us to know that he has and to see how this loss has affected and devastated him.  It doesn't matter why he is having trouble connecting with other people; it is enough for us to know that he is and to feel the palpableness of his isolation and loneliness, his desperation to find some sort of connection.  It doesn't matter what his emotional and internal struggles are; it is enough for us to know that they are there and to see the weight of that metaphorical burden made physical in the posturing of his body.  In this way, I think that Her is able to capture some aspect of each of us.  Because haven't we all, in some way, experienced loss, loneliness, or emotional struggles?  Haven't we all, at some point, been overcome by the sheer weight of living as a human in this world?

Sometimes I think I have felt everything I'm ever gonna feel.  And from here on out, I'm not gonna feel anything new.  Just lesser versions of what I've already felt. 

To me, Theordore's fears and struggles are so innately human, and I couldn't help but connect with his story on a deeply personal level.  In a world where movies seem to be getting bigger and bigger, with more complicated special effects and seemingly astronomical budgets, it's nice to see a film that is so stripped down and that tries to illuminate such simple yet important truths about the human experience.

Five out of five stars.  


  1. This is an extremely well written and insightful review of a truly beautiful movie. I couldn't agree with you more, and I particularly like your comparison of Her to a fable. It has that timeless sense to it. And, while it has been quite a while since I have seen the movie, reading your review brings the feelings and thoughts it inspired rushing to the forefront again. It is a movie that has stuck with me and left a lasting impression despite the passage of time.

    A more recent thought that has come to mind, is that the relationship at the center of Her doesn't seem so removed from our own experience these days since so much of our own human contact is through devices, email, smartphones and the like. The fact that Samantha doesn't exist outside of a device, doesn't change the majority of her interactions with Theodore into something that different than the texts and calls we all place daily.

    I am very glad that this script won for best original screenplay.

  2. Very good point about our reliance on smartphones, emails, texts, etc. to communicate, which really doesn't make Theodore and Samantha's relationship seem so far fetched! I hadn't thought about that too much, and it definitely reminds me of people who meet online and are in long distance relationships. Very interesting.


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