DirkH’s review published on Letterboxd:
It doesn't happen often when a film seems tailor made for me. So when I say this film is perfect, I mean it is perfect for me. This is not a term I use lightly and it is certainly not one representing any objective assessment of this film. I've always felt that the purpose of art is to allow us to learn something about ourselves, whether as a person or as a species. Her manages to say something about both and brilliantly uses a minimalist SF approach to convey what it wants to say. It extrapolates the society we live in today and turns it into a tangible and believable future, pants and all.
Our relation to technology troubles me sometimes. I've seen the way young people view the world change drastically over the course of 17 years of teaching. This change lies most dramatically in the way they interact. The real world has become a distraction to them, the brunt of their social interactions occurring in virtual reality. I have to make an effort to rip people from this virtual reality to make contact. And as troubling as I find this sometimes I am starting to notice this behaviour in myself as well. The anti-social nature of most social media is an intriguing paradox, filling a void and creating a need at the same time.
Her explores this without judgement by asking an intriguing what if question. What if you fall in love with an AI? And it is that very question that makes it so easy for me to like this film as this is what SF is all about. Jonze seems to understand this really well and pushes the SF elements tl the background, treating them as a given, as reality. One of he first times Theodore says that he is in love with his OS, he isn't met with scepticism or shock, but with total acceptance. And by doing this Jonze makes this not about the state of the world, nor does he make a big statement about technology. No, he makes it about us. You, me and how we relate to each other and the ever changing world around us.
And it's about love.
What we are witness to is an evolving relationship that in all its impossibilities never feels unreal. It goes through all the phases most relationships go through and therein lies its strength. By choosing a very human perspective, the cascade of emotions Theodore and Samantha go through are extremely relatable, making the ramifications of the tragic nature of their relationship very gripping and moving.
While watching this, I became fully aware that this film has a very male approach to relationship. It is very much about possession and ego. I for one found that to be a refreshing thing as it hit home hard because of that on occasion. Theodore is one of the most human characters I've seen in a while. He is fallible, self-conscious and out of touch with his emotions. Funnily enough, he is matched with an AI that is about as human as him. Their interactions are a delight, starting out slowly and quickly turning into a mutual dependance, both learning things about themselves. I loved how Jonze tackled the obvious physical problems they had to overcome and especially the fact that he doesn't force a solution on us. In fact, he makes that aspect part of how their relationship evolves. And I loved that, mostly because it lead to a beautiful ending that left me with a tear and a smile.
Her resonated very strongly with me on many levels. Like I said before, it made me aware again of the changing world around me and the way I occupy it. I need to look up from my screen more, look around me. I'm sure this was not the film's main intention, but it happened anyway. And then there is Theodore's struggle with himself. All those doubts, those emotions and fears, I've experienced all of them. The fact that he experiences them with an OS is completely and utterly beside the point. It's about our basic need for a connection and our innate fear of losing ourselves within it. We shouldn't fear real emotions, we should embrace them and learn from them. And the beautiful irony is that Theodore learns this from something that is a simulation of humanity, something many of us, myself included, regard as the root of the problem. Sometimes you need the void to show you what's really important. And we should never forget that our capacity to adapt and truly feel things are what make us human. Our time is short, we should spend it with our eyes and our hearts open, that's what I took from this gem of a film.
Phoenix, Johanssen and Jonze have created a parable that puts up a mirror to what makes us human and does so in the most tasteful and humble way imaginable.
I love Her.