I see a lot of movies. It’s what I do. And I love most of the movies that I see. I’ve been told more than once that I “love everything,” and it’s been used as an insult. I used to take some offense to those words. Because critics aren’t supposed to love everything. Critics criticize. That’s the point! Critics are supposed to watch movies in a sort of glazed over, detached state, with a constant veil of cynicism thrown over their eyes. And I can criticize. Honestly, I can. But sometimes movies are just really, really good and there’s nothing bad to say about them. It’s ok to love something fully and completely.
That’s how I feel about “Her.”
The short way to describe this film is to say that it’s about a withdrawn writer in the near future, Theodore, who falls in love with Samantha, his computer’s highly advanced, intelligent operating system.
But it’s so much more than that.
I’ve been wrestling with the idea of whether this film is meant to be a criticism of our increasing reliance on technology and the conclusion I’ve come to is no. No, it isn’t. Because this movie is more than a satire or a social statement. This is a movie about what it means to be human. What it means to love. What it means to open yourself up to another person completely and learn to the look at the world in a new way.
For me, there’s always been something embarrassing about crying in a movie theater. Sure, it’s dark and no one’s looking, but there are people around, and what if they see? Don’t get me wrong; I cry during a lot of movies. Movies get me. But usually I feel some shame and try to hide it. During “Her,” I cried and felt no shame. I felt human. I felt real.
“Her” has a vulnerability that I find hard to put into words.
There is beauty in every character. In Theodore’s vulnerability and open heart. In the way that he loves so fully, despite how he’s been hurt in the past. In his normalcy, and the way his mundaneness is endearing rather than boring.
In Samantha’s curiosity and intelligence. In the way that she wants to know everything and feel every feeling. In her constant need to grow and explore and discover.
There’s beauty in the characters with a smaller part to play, too. In Theodore’s close friend Amy’s strength and subtlety. In the way she cared about Theodore.
In his ex-wife’s tenacity and ambition. In her honesty.
In his coworker’s bright approach to life and his ability to compliment another person’s work without inhibitions or ulterior motives.
But the more important thing to me than the beauty is the way I can see myself in every character. I can relate to the flaws and strengths, even the beauty. The curiosity and the loneliness. It’s all there, represented through a cast of characters who are sometimes painfully real.
The story means something because it is about me. It’s about you. It’s about anyone who has ever felt happiness or love or doubt or fear. It was, more than anything, just about what it means to be human.
You’ll cry during this film not because it’s incredibly sad, but because it’s incredibly genuine and gentle. And if that’s not enough, it’s also, at times, quite riotously funny.
I’ve written all of this and I haven’t even touched on the acting, cinematography, or musical score, and the truth is, I could write long articles on each of those topics individually. But I won’t. I’ll just say that the acting is superb, the cinematography is breathtaking, and the music is transcendental.
Everything about this film is transcendental, really. It transcends satire, cheap tricks, or exploitation and tells a beautiful, poignant story about love.
Theodore could have been reduced to a caricature. He could have been sad, lonely man who finds companionship with a computer because he has no one else. The character would still have been interesting enough. I would have probably still enjoyed that movie. But because Theodore is instead an awkward, kind, talented, heartfelt, honest character, “Her” is something special.
Samantha could’ve been an easy trick. Her character could’ve been used to push dramatic plot points along, but instead she was childlike and innocent, charming and loveable. She’s constantly changing throughout the film, progressing in ways that even Theodore doesn’t progress.
My dad once asked me why I write reviews for this blog. It’s an understandable question. I’m not being paid, I’m incredibly busy with schoolwork, and I’m not sure anyone even reads these things. “Because I have to,” was my reply to him. It was mostly a joke, but the more I think about what I said, the more I stand by it.
I’m writing this because I have to. Because I can’t see a movie like “Her” and not write about the ways that I loved it. That’s the bottom line here, I think. I loved this movie so much that it inspired me to put words on a page, even though I didn’t have to, and that’s worth telling.