The film Her by director Spike Jonze follows Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonesome writer of other peoples’ personal letters. Theodore soon develops a relationship with his computer Operating System or OS for short, with the name Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). Set in Los Angeles in the not-so-distant future, an OS promises to meet the user’s every need. Samantha fills Theodore’s life with simplicity and ease as she reorganizes his files and emails. Samantha also proves to be an effective companion by asking insightful questions driven by her insatiable enthusiasm about the world and all of its possibilities.
The film eloquently shows how such a peculiar relationship can develop in the soon-to-be modern age. Samantha quickly evolves into the most interesting character in the film, by far. Theodore’s love for Samantha grows out of his ability to see the world through her nonexistent eyes. She embraces love and new ideas in a way that adult human cynicism could never understand. The film puts their new-age relationship to the test with countless obstacles ranging from sexual intercourse and fidelity to differing levels of intelligence.
Her is brimming with originality and artistic talent; however, the film leaves many issues unaddressed with mixed results. Every audience should be able to handle a healthy dose of ambiguity, but some issues are far too pressing to be ignored. The company that designed Samantha has little to no bearing on the story; does her love for Theodore operate out of real intelligence or some type of marketing ploy? The film is quick to highlight the many positive effects Samantha has on Theodore, but a relationship with an OS could also lead to further isolation and selfish tendencies by loving an entity that asks for little to nothing in return. Living in an age where artificial intelligence is far more than a distant reality, anyone should be quick to question the nature of a relationship with a piece of hardware.