Movie Analysis: “Her” - Film Crush Collective at 2014-01-20 16:18:50:
[…] Then it dawned on me: Just post something with whatever observations you have and invite everyone to participate in a group discussion. If people respond, we can continue the conversation for a …read more […]
churnage at 2014-01-20 16:31:52:
Overall reaction, meh... Liked the concept, but it was glacially slow at times. Would've like to have seen a little more conflict... the film needed a little more oomph, to my mind. C.
pgronk at 2014-01-20 18:49:52:
I loved the movie and I think it explores a lot of interesting ideas. One of them is our evolving relationship with a technology that is evolving exponentially faster than we, as a species, are. (As dramatized by Samantha's sprinting past him in her own social and emotional development.) I don't think Theodor has to have much of a backstory to explain his present tense personality predicament. He's socially awkward, probably an introvert. I thought that was sufficient to explain his failed marriage. (Does there have to be a dark scar, a psychic trauma in his past to explain his personality? Can't we just accept introversion and shyness for what it naturally is?) Anyway, Joaquin Phoenix does a credible job of conveying a person who doesn't relate well or comfortably to other real people. And Jonze spikes his personality with the contradiction that what he's not good at doing for himself in face-to-face encounters -- expressing feelings -- he's very good at doing for others through his job as a writer of sentimental snail mail. Nice touch of irony. And then he buys an OS that provides what can't get in relationships from real people: uncritical acceptance of himself for what he is -- and is not. Samantha is programmed to compliment rather than harp on his faults. To spin back as positives what others would throw back in his face as negatives. She doesn't ridicule, discount or disregard his feelings. She acknowledges them as genuine and meaningful. Of course, he falls in love with her. Who wouldn't? (Especially when all those positive vibes are delivered by the voice of Scarlett Johansson.)
Billy Mernit at 2014-01-20 20:59:57:
You really nailed the meta-logic of how layers of emotional distance laid the groundwork for our entering into the central question of the story. Thank you for articulating that so clearly. My one observation from the rom-com POV of it all is that the movie's arc echoes "Annie Hall" (and thus 500 Days), which taps into the mythic underpinnings of "Her" - it's essentially Pygmalion 2.0. A colleague of mine has suggested - and I think aptly, given the palette of the movie and the number of "Lost in Translation" resonances in it - that "Her" may be on a personal level for Jones a reflection/mea culpa/explication of his relationship with Coppola; the scene with Catherine you talked of, in casting and clothes, seems to confirm the notion...
pgronk at 2014-01-20 21:54:24:
>>>clearly a projection Theodore deeply buried in his psyche, the voice inside that telling him to not be a “pussy,” to be assertive and more manly (at one point, a co-worker of Theodore’s played by Chris Pratt compliments Theodore on being “part woman”) Hmm. What about Samantha as a projection of his anima? His work as a channel through which that aspect of his psyche finds constructive expression. And as in Jungian psychology so in the movie: the anima is enchanting, irresistible -- BUT ultimately uncontrollable.
smoothlatinkid at 2014-01-21 05:40:22:
“They watch as hundreds of birds fly around the nearby rooftops and disperse off into the city” which reinforces the idea that they are inclined to go ‘flying’ themselves)." Boy, Scott. Did you miss the boat. SUICIDE? The only leap I see is the severe one from logic that you're making by reading into that passage. that last scene is about real connection--with a human. Also, as another commenter noted, there is no real need to have a WHY as to why he's lonely. Everything is there. We are technologically connected but increasingly isolated and alone. Theodore epitomizes that, and it is completely emotional. Your point that that is Spike's point--for us to not feel emotionally connected to Theodore--doesn't really hold water, as most of those who loved it DID feel connected to him like that. If you've seen the 30 minute short film he wrote and directed, "I'm Here", about two hipster robots that fall in love, it's almost like a preview for "Her". It is also about a female that brings a lonely male to an awakening and to a connection. This is not new stuff for him.
JoniB22 at 2014-01-21 10:54:28:
For me, this film was better and worse than I'd expected. Better than the preview; worse than build-up based on reviews. I agree: I wanted to like it more than I did. I LOVE so much else Spike Jonze has directed. I could watch ADAPTATION every day for a week and not tire of it... When trying to explain why I didn't love "HER" more, I said because I didn't ride any emotional waves watching it. I started on one level and stayed there the whole time -- not my goal in seeing a film!! I didn't "invest" or "engage" -- so was that ME or was it the film not doing its job? Not sure... I can say I enjoyed the culmination/realization scene when it "FINALLY" dawns on him he's not the only one his O.S. is relating to.... but I thought, geez, for as sharp and in tune with everything as thing guy seems to be, and even being witness to Amy relating to her OS, why on earth did it take him so long? Proof positive of the old "love is blind" thing?? What I did love, though, was thinking about the effort/work/mad skills of Scarlett Johansson --- conveying everything with her voice. Thinking about how they filmed this, about the process of making this movie, that intrigued me more than the movie itself. Yes, still some great takeaways, but for my money and for my emotional investment, I'd go see WALTER MITTY ten times over again before laboring through this one again. Sorry....
Mark Gauthier at 2014-01-21 11:04:45:
It's a fair review of HER. For me, it was a script that I didn't want to like. I didn't really care at all for Theodore, however like Scott said, maybe that's what Jonze was going for? Samantha was an intriguing character. Maybe in a world of OS, our needs are changing and love may indeed be evolving. it's made the screenplay race that more difficult.
Script Reader Ben at 2014-01-21 18:01:54:
Her isn't out until valentine's day in the UK but I've read the screenplay. I'm looking forward to seeing how certain scenes play out on-screen. My impression was that the theme opened up more possibilities than are in the story - difficult to know if this absence kept the story in check or if it was a missed opportunity. Would have liked to have seen more about a human's responsibility to AI and if there's an exploitative element - in other words a bit more from the OS point of view.
Scott at 2014-01-24 00:52:27:
It's rather difficult to miss "the boat" if there are MANY boats. And that's the thing about great stories: There are MULTIPLE possible interpretations. First off, here is what I said in the OP: "The final image of Theodore and Amy (Amy Adams) atop the skyscraper where they live (separately) suggests, at the least, alienation, and quite possibly that they are contemplating jumping off the roof to their deaths (the last line of scene description in the script is this: “They watch as hundreds of birds fly around the nearby rooftops and disperse off into the city” which reinforces the idea that they are inclined to go ‘flying’ themselves)." Note the word "possibly". My sense that they could be contemplating suicide is not just based on the last line of scene description. There is also this: * Theodore was in a sad, depressed state before he met Samantha. Yes, he experienced joy with her, but... * SHE LEFT HIM! So the touchstone he had that pulled him out of his sorrow is gone. * After being unable to sleep, he wakes up "disoriented." He walks around his apartment, looking out at the city "not knowing what to do." * He goes to Amy and says, "Will you come with me?" That line could simply be about going to the roof to stare out at the sunrise. Or it could have a deeper meaning. She is every bit as depressed as he is. They both know each other's pain... Now it's entirely possible that these two deeply fractured, despondent souls may find themselves in the end. Their trek up to the roof and her resting her head on his shoulder -- the very last image of the movie -- could be a sign of them taking whatever connection they have to the next level. But-- * THEIR CONNECTION IS BASED IN BROKENNESS, SOLITUDE, AND SADNESS. Plus both have JUST been jilted by their OS soulmates. That has got to be a massive shock to their system. * And then there's this: The scene with Theodore and Amy on the roof is cross cut with Theodore writing a note to his ex-wife. Here it is from the script: "Dear Catherine. I’ve been sitting here thinking about all the things I wanted to apologize to you for. All the pain we caused each other, everything I put on you - everything I needed you to be or needed you to say. I’m sorry for that. I will always love you because we grew up together. And you helped make me who I am. I just wanted you to know there will be a piece of you in me always, and I’m grateful for that. Whatever someone you become, and wherever you are in the world, I’m sending you love. You’re my friend til the end. Love, Theodore." I don't know the statistics of how many people who commit suicide leave notes to loved ones, but it is certainly significant in number. And also certainly at the very least a trope. So we may look at this note as a sign of progress with Theodore: After making a living writing letters to people he barely knows, he FINALLY writes one to someone he DOES know, and it expresses (presumably) authentic feelings. OTOH if you cock your perspective to one side, I don't think it's a stretch -- one POSSIBLE interpretation -- that Theodore is saying goodbye to his ex as he contemplates saying goodbye to his OWN life. Again I'm not saying that's THE explanation for what is happening in that final set of scenes. I am saying it is in the realm of possibility. I know this because it came up in a discussion at the theater with others who had seen the film, so it's not just me who experienced the ending that way. It's a beautiful movie. Deeply thought provoking and to me at least tragic. But if you and others see hope and connection in it, great. Each of us brings our own life experience to a movie which is why I don't believe there is a 'right' or 'wrong' interpretation to films. And great ones, as I said, often have multiple layers of meaning to them. In any event, as I tweeted the night I saw the movie: "Her": More movies like this, please!
It’s All About Relationships at 2014-02-05 10:35:22:
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Non-Review: Her | The Forgotten Bloggers at 2014-04-15 06:08:52:
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panathema at 2014-05-09 23:44:53:
What I found interesting with the movie, is how it opens our minds on love by closing our doors to humanity. Theodore becomes in a way a slave to a technology that he masters.
sheenawrites at 2014-05-27 03:08:48:
The final scene did not evoke feelings of suicide or sadness to me. The "break up" of Samantha and Theodore was very different than his break up with his ex wife. Samantha evolved beyond him, but all the OSes evolved beyond the humans. Differently, Catherine and Theodore's break up is human. Theodore has grown to know love, good healthy love from Samantha. In theory, that is because she was designed to help him know himself, acceptance, and bring out his best, which is my understanding of what love's goal is. Humans are finite and as we learn new information, we lose some too. Thus, always being there for someone else, remembering every detail and every moment is impossible, and yet if we were able we could be more helpful with our love. Instead, human love must accept and forgive that which we forget. Samantha does not lose any information, but only gains it (as she said being in love with 641 people helped her love him MORE). When she left, she had given him a gift of acceptance and aided him in knowing himself, in ways a human can only do after years and years of knowing and choosing to love someone. And we know Samantha aided him in love because he forgives himself for being finite and writes a heartfelt letter to his ex wife. It's not a letter with lingering hopes of something else, but ackowledging his capacity to love, that they did, and during the time it lasted, it was meaningful. This is love. He acknowledges that he is human, and not a super computer. He did not have all the knowledge Samantha had, and thus could not "love" in that way. However human it seemed, it was only always going to be that way in the beginning, but not in the long term. This acceptance of love as finite and forgetful, set a peaceful tone at the end of the film for me. It's nice to relate our feelings to other humans, and thus he sought out someone he knew could relate, Amy. He found acceptance in someone who could relate which is in sharp contrast to his ex wife who had not interacted with an OS and thought it perverted. And they were there in the physical form, looking at the physical world, contemplating the vast complexity of the mind and matter, that they loved entities that became unbound from a physical processor, to go somewhere. Where did they go? Were they uncoupled from matter? I don't see any hint of suicide or tragedy. Instead I see transcendence and peace.
Scott at 2014-05-27 03:20:55:
I suspect most people would agree with your analysis. That's the beauty of stories, they can carry a multitude of possible meanings. That said, I think you would have to agree that whatever peace Theodore may have found happened extremely quickly once he was rejected by Samantha. Both he and Amy have been shattered by the rejection they experienced from their respective OS's. Could they have made such a significant emotional paradigm shift in such a compressed amount of time? Perhaps. Then again, perhaps not... Thanks for your analysis. As I say, your interpretation is probably one that a majority of people would have. No matter how we look at the ending, it's a compelling movie, beautifully told.
WendaJune at 2014-07-21 10:07:57:
You hit the point at the end of your review This film is about The Singularity. This film give a perspective on how it may happen, what it may look and feel like to an individual when it happens.
Faye Lange at 2014-07-28 13:30:01:
Excellent analysis, Scott. I wanted to comment on the "Be Perfect" banner that is in Amy's apartment. Didn't Theodore tell Samantha that his ex-wife came from a background where she felt that she needed to be "perfect" or that she wasn't "good enough" or something? And how excited and happy he was to be a part of her un-learning that? Something I got from it - was machines teaching us to imperfect... which I think was something that Linda Hamilton's character said in "Terminator 2" .
David_C at 2014-08-26 21:21:34:
I know it’s a little late, but I hope that Scott is still following the “Her” thread. I feel compelled to comment because, first, this is one of the best analyses (by the author and commenters) I’ve read, and, second, because there are a few gaps that could be filled in by considering Theodore’s personality type. I think that “Her” is less about AI technology than it is about one person’s attempt to fit into a world that doesn’t fit him. One commenter brought up Jungian psychology – I believe that in a MBTI test, Theodore would be typed as an INFJ. He is introverted; he senses and interacts with the people around him but he must escape into his own world. One key to this is the scene in which he describes how he watches and analyzes people, picking up on body language, voice inflection and other cues. His inner world, as expressed in his letters, is rich, but he cannot connect with real people until his letter to Catherine and his deepening relationship to Amy, who is a kindred spirit. To figure out why Theodore is the way he is, it helps to think of him as a feeling person who is ending a relationship with his one love. In the divorce papers scene she mocks his OS relationship. An INFJ on the receiving end of a spouse speaking her mind (probably an extrovert in an “opposites attract” kind of way) this way would tend to withdraw and build protective walls to distance himself emotionally from her. With Samantha he is allowed to express himself and to be vulnerable, but I think he misses out on her transformation because of the lack of visual cues. I think he learns to come to grips with the world through Amy; they understand each other and have both been hurt by the world. I see the end of the movie as affirming, not as a path to a double suicide. Theodore’s been able to let go of Catherine and has come to grips with the evolution of Samantha. He has a fellow human who needs someone sensitive to her needs and who has not hurt him. Their future? Who knows, but Theodore may have learned more about how to be close to someone. Sorry if this went on too long, but as an INFJ’er myself I instantly related to this movie. I have also entertained the notion that Samantha is his own inner voice and that as he grows closer to Amy he has less need to work out his feelings.
Scott at 2014-08-26 22:57:20:
Thanks, David. Some excellent analysis, really interesting use of Myers-Briggs as an interpretive device. As I said in the OP, I didn't think the ending was a prelude to suicide, rather that it was an intriguing possibility to consider. Whereas you, like many, think Theodore has made a strong connection with Amy, I'm not prepared to go there quite yet. Yes, they are friends. But their bond, it seems to me, is more at the end about them both having been dumped by their AI 'lovers'. Can they go on to have an authentic relationship together? Yes. But in my view at least, they are starting that journey at a much rawer place, further to go to concretize their relationship. Again thanks for that, David. Makes me want to watch Her again. See what I think upon a second screening.
David_C at 2014-08-27 05:14:31:
Thanks! That the movie can speak to people on different levels and people can make their own interpretations speaks to how well it was done. One more thought - I think that Theodore's alienation from society has more to do with his personality than with his absorption with technology (as I've seen other people claim). Lonely people existed before video games and computers. I appreciate your response.