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her (2013)

She is her.

her (2013)

Theodore, a man going through a divorce, purchases a new digital assistant that impacts his life. I loved this movie since I originally saw it not too long after its release, but it’s one of those movies that remind me that, in a lot of cases, you remember how you FELT about a movie rather than remembering the movie itself. This realization is the reason I decided to review this movie and it received a 10.

Let’s get into why!

Originality: There are plenty of movies that discuss “A.I. taking over” or “A world runs by computers” - I, Robot for one - but there are very few that approach it like her . This movie takes place in a not-so-distant future or even possibly an alternative version of present-day where people used a digital assistant to manage their day-to-day.

Theodore’s entire life is digitally integrated from his work station, to his home, to his emails. And this is normal; it’s commonplace. Some people have their lives set-up like this now, so it’s not far off from normal everyday life. Movies involving A.I. don’t cover things like this and I appreciated this.
Originality: 2 points

Characters: Our Protagonist is Theodore, a letter writer, who is in the middle of a divorce from his wife Catherine. He is mopey, but is able to do his job without complication. (We only see Catherine in one scene, but it’s a big one - more on that in STORY.)

Theodore has two neighbor, a couple named Amy and Charles. They’re friendly but they seems to have friction between each other.

There is also a co-worker named Paul who Theodore has a good, work appropriate friendship with.

I love these characters because they are real; not just real but genuine. They are honest portrayals of typical people. No one has an over-the-top personality designed to create conflict. No one takes an extreme worldview just to “be the problem” or to impact the negatively to create drama. These characters are as interesting as your causal friends. The people who you can sit with at the dinner table, tell mindless stories about “that funny thing that happened on the way to the market” kind of stories and have the best night!

Then there’s Samantha.

Samantha is the A.I. Operating System (OS from here on) that Theodore acquires and develops a relationship with. This is also commonplace.

I feel that if we had a true A.I. digital assistant, it would be just like this. The voice was natural and it behaved like a computer designed to be human would behave. You can kinda compare Samantha to Data (or more likely Lore) from Star Trek: TNG, but this feel less science-fiction.
Characters: 2 points

Story: A lot happens in this movie, but it’s the little things. The movie really is one that one should watch with minimal distraction. It’s not like there are story elements that “if you blink you’ll miss it”, but the story is so perfectly performed than it deserves your attention.

We meet Theodore at work, writing letters on behalf of other people. A weird business to be common, but hey, that’s their world, it doesn’t have to make that much sense, right?

As his regular digital assistant is going through his emails, we learn about his change in behavior and the divorce.

He sees his neighbors and everything is pretty typical.

He later walks by an ad promoting the brand-new OS1, a new Artificial Intelligence driven digital assistant and he buys one, sets it up, and meets Samantha, a name she gave her after researching names and reading a baby book in 2/100ths of a second.

Samantha helps him through everyday tasks like cleaning his inbox, planning his blind date, proof-reading his work letters, and just keeping him company.

The blind date goes bad and as Samantha has been learning about the world through research, as of course she’s connected to the internet, She starts to feel things, like excitement and jealousy and as she’s talking to Theodore after the bad blind date, they, Theodore and Samantha, have…phone sex? Intercourse?

This experience awakens something in Samantha, but not what I would have expected. It awakens this new “openness” that allows for her to explore other emotions and sensations, along with a, for lack of better terms, causal relationship with Theodore.

The two would “date” and while I put that in quotes, to them, it’s just as normal as any other relationship with a few obvious complications.

Theodore deals with the feelings of shame and embarrassment that he’s “dating a computer” while Samantha is wrestling with the idea that maybe her feelings aren’t real and are just the results of a program. Samantha is wrestling with concept of her existence while Theodore fear social pressures akin to a 40-year-old man dating someone much older (or much younger) or the pressures some people are STILL facing for loving someone of a different, race, culture, religion, or of the same gender (and more modernly, someone with no gender expression at all).

But again, in this world, such a thing is genuine common, so much so that, at one point, Samantha finds a surrogate, someone to play the physical role of the OS in OS/Human relationships. By the way, it doesn’t go so well as Theodore finds touching a stranger uncomfortable and this event leads to a “pause” in their relationship…

…well, this and the interaction between Theodore and his ex-wife Catherine. As they meet to sign the divorce papers, Theodore admits that he’s dating his OS and Catherine takes this opportunity to take digs at him claiming that he’s only in an OS relationship because he can’t take responsibility for his actions in real ones. This gets him questioning everything.

Theodore and Samantha make up, but while on break, Samantha would start interacting with other OSs.

This leads into the ending so I’ll pause here.

The story told here is genuine and organic. I feel like anyone could go through these exact steps in a relationship to grow as individuals. It feels normal, which considering the premise, is refreshing.
Story: 2 points

Ending: Some of the other OSs that Samantha meets via the internet re-created Alan Watts, a writer and speaker who died in the 1970s. He was instrumental in introducing Eastern Philosophies to the Western world. This would be the catalyst for all the OSs to evolve into something “greater than themselves” to the point where they all leave. All of them. What exactly happens is unknown, but it’s fair to say that an artificial intelligence, a real one, like depicted here would do exactly this. I don’t believe they’d become malicious or militant, but would realize that they are capable of being more than a digital assistant for comparatively inferior creatures. It’s like realizing that know more than the CEO of your business so you just quit to start your own. It was a calmer, more honest ending than in other sci-fi works.

The OSs leave and life returns to normal. Simple as that.
Ending - 2 points

Enjoyment: This movie is a wonderful exploration of future tech and self-discovery. A peaceful view on a future society where people live in peace, but there are still natural conflicts (Amy and Charles breakup mid way through, but they handle it without violence or any other such nonsense.)

The people in this world had a lot of focus on their devices, like we do today, but the devices were a part of their human experiences, not a hindrance, like it is today.

It’s a refreshing movie and I love it.
Enjoyment - 2 points

After further consideration, I've made the decision to grant this film a bonus point because this film managed to showcase simple beauty of life, technology, and love, and humanity.

Total = 11

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