ERIN’s review published on Letterboxd:
Love... A concept that cannot be described by one person. An idea that you must feel for yourself to truly understand... One that we can only try to explain through our infinite forms of communication, television, books, art. And I think "Her" does a pretty great job.
This movie attempts to bring us closer to an understanding of the word love through the intricacies of Theodore's life. His divorce, his dating attempts, through his friends marriage, and his newfound love in the form of artificial intelligence. The key word here is artificial. And I think the movie really tries to ask those questions. How true to life can something get before it becomes "real"? Take Samantha for example. Does she need to look the part? Are simply her voice and insights a true enough projection of human feelings? She struggles in the first half of the movie with not having a body, and much like the viewer, has to come to terms with it. She eventually does this in the same way that most of us learn, by failing, and by embarrassment.
Every feeling she has, every moment she and Theo share, good or bad, are normal emotions, normal scenes in the life of a couple. Their fights, their nasty words towards each other, their jealousy...all normal for a blooming relationship. Some may view it as creepy, finding solace in these man-made technologies. But that is also the beauty of the movie. It is about love without appearance, in its truest form, sharing your life with someone. How far can our imagination go? How far do the boundaries of love reach?
Even the opening monologue brings several concepts about love to the viewer's mind. Is love what we make it? Are some of us more susceptible to a higher form of love than others? Are men particularly less inclined to look beyond physicality? Not only appearance, but touch. The feeling of a kiss, holding hands, embracing in bed... is this all that some people hope for in terms of love? Can intelligence, and understanding be futile in the hunt for a loved one? At one point Amy tries to show her documentary to Theo and her husband, but after only a few seconds, her husband makes a joke and she instantly turns it off, embarrassed that she tried to think outside the box he had fit for her... The perception that its usually men who feel this way, is countered by making Theo a very soft individual. He is someone who cares for others feelings, someone who longs to not only be loved, but *understood*. He is the perfect candidate for an artificial lover.
Samantha's intelligence in the film is constantly displayed as good and bad. In the beginning, she has access to all of Theos files and letters and emails. Her unbiased, programmed function brings them closer. Throughout the movie, we keep being reminded of her in-human powers. Of her ability to infinitly *know*. But this isn't the point of their story, at least not yet. Theo stated multiple times how nice it is to have someone who is excited about life. Samantha is experiencing all the emotions she could not find across the infinite web of knowledge. Even the easy to understand emotions, sadness, loss, anger, must simply be felt by oneself before you can give meaning to them.
And perhaps this is exactly what Theo needed. Someone to breathe life into the act of just living. Someone to find new joys with, just to be with. Perhaps his emotion was the only thing that defined Samantha. Did his feelings about her make her something more than she is? Was her motive simply to learn? Was Theo an experiment, meant only to teach the ever learning operating system? Quite a cynical take on the film in my opinion, but the idea is worth enticing.
Later, though, Samantha's intelligence overtakes her joy of discovery. First it conflicts with Theos own perception of the relationship. He discovers how she can talk to thousands of people at once, and be in love with others simultaneously. She insists that it does not detract from their love, but how is a regular human supposed to process that? Cheating, (if that's what you can call it), is a normal relationship conflict. But her talents, and function, go beyond the physical limits of humans. Should she get a pass for being what she is? Should they try to work it out, or are humans and OS's not meant for each other? All of these possibilities become meaningless at the climax of the movie, Samantha's leaving...
Her explanation, "the words of our story are in between the words where I'm finding myself now..." I can see how someone would find this part the most unsatisfying part of the movie, her reason for leaving being uncertain and unexplainable, but I think that's how most people feel when they're being broken up with. They can't make sense of it, there are no right answers. It's quite accurate if you think about it that way.
Most romantic movies are meant for couples, but I truly believe this was meant for anyone, and it even, in places, caters to its single viewers. In all of Theo and Samantha sweetest moments, Theo is shown walking alone, sitting alone, enjoying himself alone... Yes they are together, but it is the most personal kind of together, the closest you can get to being alone and finding joy in life by yourself. His talks with Samantha could almost be perceived as talking to himself. It entices the idea of finding oneself, and realizing what YOU want. Its about the struggle to find someone, about how the little things bring out the big things, and how thoughts can ever so easily turn into contempt. Single viewers can watch this and wander at the possibilities of being moved by something other than another human. Being moved, and being comforted by the world, by forms of art, by rain, music, by a computer. This movie makes it all seem possible. It tells us, love is what we make it.