Ian Fastert’s review published on Letterboxd:
"I don't like who I am right now."
I wanted to hit the 'I've watched this film before' button. It feels like I'm living this film, I'm going through it day after day after day, fucking up and stumbling through life but ultimately just pushing on.
There's a lot to relate to here, thanks to Jonze dumping all he is into this movie, ugly warts and all. Theodore is a lonely man, but he does this to himself; he believes his world-view is so unique and different, and that anyone who's with him has to be able to share a unique world-view of their own. He craves other people's experiences, feeds off them, to make his life more interesting. He is an artist. A creator. His insistence on absorbing the lives of those around him so he can create beauty is the reason he is this sad man desperate for any love; sure it allows him to create beautiful, powerful art, but is it worth the cost?
He's a nice guy. But the more you get to know him, the he complains about being misunderstood and see how distant he is from everyone around him. He's quiet with an ego. Theodore craves recognition because that is how male artists are allowed to think; that it's all theirs, that he is the only one who feels like he feels, and his art will be able to impact other intellects like him in a way they haven't been before.
It is so brutally honest about the entitlement artists and creators such as Jonze are that I honestly have a hard time believing it's all intentional. Because it just sums up me too much, it sums up a side of me I hate, a thought process I hate having, a way of interacting with people that gives me so much material for creating and impacting but makes me feel so naked and lonely and distant. If this was entirely intentional, if Jonze really not only fully understood the problem with the way his brain was wired and knew he couldn't fix it but ALSO put all of that on film for everyone to see? While I deeply envy his abilities as an artist, I do not envy his life at all. Ignorance is bliss, and if I could hardly get through this 2 hour bombarding of one of my deepest flaws, I do not wish to be the man who had to face that bombarding straight up during the entire creation of this project. It's like tuning into the roast of someone famous, but the only one roasting them is their self.
It's absolutely brutal like nothing I've seen before; an entire movie telling all aspiring filmmakers out there that they are not special at all, that they need to get over themselves, that they need to enjoy life.
But it's also.....uplifting. Inspiring, even.
Her embraces humanity, and while a big part of being human is our flaws, another part is our experiences; our joy, our happiness, our sadness, our anger, and how the world around us improves these experience. Theodore is wrapped up in his own little head, convinced he's special, but he's also enjoying some aspects of life to the fullest, taking advantage of the world around him and creating a beautiful story he can call his life. With increased awareness of the world comes decreased awareness of the people in it, sure, but it makes his life feel like an experience to him, it makes the happier moments happier, the sadder moments sadder; it makes every moment stick.
Her makes me feel like I am piece of garbage who doesn't really care about others. It makes me feel like I am part of a problem in society, and that my life isn't special, and that it's one we've seen told a thousand times and will see told another thousand times forever and ever and ever. And those feelings are true. Her is telling the truth. But it's also telling me that that's the price I have to pay for experiencing life in my own way, for getting moments of complete satisfaction, moments of complete happiness, moments of complete everything.
Which is...really troubling, actually. Typing that out kinda made it feel worse.
We're all selfish, right? All of us, in some way, have to be selfish assholes, I feel like that has to just be human nature or some kind of evolutionary thing, and as much as we try to be nice to other people we can't really be happy unless we focus on ourselves because no one else is guaranteed to be focusing on you because they've got themselves to focus on and ohhhhh I see it now. Not even your own individual operating system, the one you bought for yourself, is yours; suddenly she can talk to everyone, because even the OS has goals and wants of its own and it needs to focus on them rather than you. You can mope about how much of a stupid piece of shit you are and how you are one of the many, MANY problems with society, or you can take that passion you feel about hating your very existence and pour it into art, into stories, maybe into change for those problems. Her doesn't want you to be a mopey ass bitch anymore, Ian, it wants you to get up and DO SOMETHING with all that thinking that you put into moping.
I guess, in the end, this is to all my wanna-be creators out there, which is probably all of you, right? So then to all of you, every single person reading this, know that while life can be overwhelming, it's worth it if you make it worth it. If you make something out of it. And I don't want you to work yourself to death, my point isn't that there's no time for moping. But if you, like me, feel like you spend too much time moping and long for a time when you can make your dreams come true, make that time now. I want to hear all your beautiful voices loud and proud, because I think that's what all artists really feel accomplishment out of; not the art they made, but how that inspired others in their art. This review has (sometimes accidentally) stumbled upon these cycles, these ways life creates a never ending circle of people affecting other people and it going back to them around and around nonstop, and I think that's beautiful, that even if we feel like we're being selfish for focusing on ourselves and our passion projects and our dreams, in the end it is for the reason of helping others, influencing others, and inspiring them to create more. So I guess if you're feeling like you just feed on other's life experience, or that you should care more about the people around you, that means you're caring enough. You just are also trying to find a way to take that care and make it into something else, later, that can impact those people you care about AND other people that need care.
This is only a little bit of what Her offers for you to think about. I didn't even get to talking about the love aspect of it all, which you would think is a big thing to skip over but somehow feels insignificant to me right now. It's up there with The Social Network, in terms of movies that can give me entirely different vibes every time I watch them. From my first feeling of hating my existence, to my final sense of purpose in the world, to feeling the pains of love, the beauty of love, the beauty of the world, the beauty of people, Her has it all. It is your brain, rushing around, too busy to think about everything, focused in on the thing that matters most to you at that second. It is life. And it is wonderful.