When you enter Spike Jonze’s world, you feel like you are entering a dream world. A world where everything is not quite right or even present. In his first feature, Being John Malkovich, he quite literally transported to an unreal world inside a famous actor’s mind. But as he evolved, his sense of dream-like logic has become more subtle and nuanced. I think with Her, he has perfected his filmmaking signature.
Theodore is a lonely man, recovering from a recent and very drawn out divorce. He decides to purchase the world’s first intuitive operating system, OS1. This operating system learns more and more as she is left on and she becomes a fully realized personality, named Samantha. Theodore finds himself falling in love with Samantha. They start a relationship, but it is instantly complicated by a very glaring fact. She does not have a body. But love can blind you to a whole swath of circumstances.
This film isn’t about falling in love, but rather moving on from the love you felt for other people. Theodore is lonely because he is still in love with his wife. Although he believes that they probably can’t be together anymore, he misses everything about her. He seems restricted by this love that can be no more. When he falls in love with Samantha, that world opens up more. He isn’t just in his office, apartment, and best friend’s apartment. Instead he goes sailing, lays on the beach, rents a cabin in the woods, and generally just lives in the big metropolis that he seemed removed from before. Love is the crutch he needs in order to enjoy life. Jonze contrasts this with Amy, Theodore’s best friend. She discovers through the course of the film that she no longer loves her husband. She finds no support from him. No shared life experiences. She falls for her OS1 operating system as well, but it is more of a companion instead of a romantic relationship. She believes that being independent is the best course for herself after such an emotional time in her life. At one point she says she feels relieved that her husband is gone. She is more emotionally mature than Theodore. By the time the movie ends, Theodore understands what Amy is truly saying about life in general. He realizes he doesn’t need love to complete himself. This realization can only be truly understood in Jonze’s dreamlike futuristic world where a man falls in love with his computer.