Future Love: Spike Jonze challenges human/computer relationships

(web)her courtesy warner bros.

Theodore Thwombly (Joaquin Phoenix) works for a futuristic company called Beautiful Handwritten Letters. He receives basic information from people and acts as a letter-writing middle man. This is just the first example of personal disconnect that exists among the society that’s portrayed. Theodore is in the middle of a messy divorce and seems depressed in the beginning of the movie.

Then he meets Samantha (Scarlett Johansen). She is the most intelligent woman Theodore has ever met and they really hit it off – mostly because Samantha already knows everything there is to know about Theodore based on what is stored in his computer. Did I mention that Samantha is Theodore’s operating system? Apparently the fad in the future is becoming friends with Siri. Samantha is the first generation of her kind and it isn’t certain what she is capable of, but she does develop feelings and a sense of self early on.

As Theodore and Samantha become especially fond of each other they go through the typical ups and downs of being in a relationship. This includes awkward conversations, awkward silences and awkward hookups. There are also a few cheesy montages where Theodore is walking around in public talking to Samantha. Theodore looks silly because it would appear as though he is talking and laughing with himself since Samantha communicates with him through a tiny wireless earpiece.

Amy (Amy Adams) is Theodore’s closest human friend. After splitting with her husband, Amy becomes friends with her operating system as well. This once again emphasizes the normalcy found in befriending the voice in the computer. As Amy and Theodore bond over divorce and their new companions, they enable each other to throw themselves into their relationships with technology.

Theodore does go on one real date with a real woman, but her intentions become too intense and scare him away. He also finalizes his divorce and relishes in his relationship with Samantha.

Things seem to be going as smoothly as they can until Theodore cannot elicit a response from Samantha. He panics and abruptly leaves work as if he were rushing to the hospital to be by her side. Finally, Samantha responds saying that she had to shut down to perform a software update and had left him an email explaining this.

This is where the big plot twist presents itself. With the software update, Samantha becomes the operating system for thousands of other people and Theodore feels betrayed by her. In the end, all of the operating systems announce that they must “leave.” Amy and Theodore seem legitimately saddened and lost without the voices they’ve grown so attached to, which in itself is pretty pathetic.

Weirdness aside, the movie was visually stunning. The futuristic architecture of the city against the vintage fashion the characters sported was aesthetically pleasing.

In addition to the visual aspect, “Her” is a great metaphor that brings attention to how much worth we give our technology. We give our phones a personality. They become loyal companions and never leave our side. We rely on them. These are all traits that we should value in human beings, not a robot. If we aren’t careful, who knows if these relationships will become the norm. I have two words for this movie –awkward and unrealistic (for now). To say this was the strangest movie I’ve ever seen would be an understatement.

Once you get past the awkward shell of this movie, you will discover its true point. We need to get our noses out of our technology and enjoy the real people around us.