Dear Her (Rick’s Take),
As I am dropped into your near-future I am instantly comfortable meeting the evolved Theodore (brilliantly handled by Joaquin Phoenix.) He has an interesting job writing touching letters for clients that use a letter writing service as a social conduit for those that can’t or won’t write them. Immediately it’s an interesting dichotomy with his real life as I am made aware of his separation and impending divorce.
As he sort of sleepwalks through his life its clear how hard his recent solitude is on him. Even his life long friend Amy (played with depth by Amy Adams) has trouble lifting his spirits. When he stumbles across an ad for a new artificial intelligent operating system, he buys it and as soon as he loads it we are introduced to Samantha. This virtual person, voiced with emotional verve by Scarlett Johansson, is instantly disarming and pleasant.
For Theodore it’s a crack of warmth in his frozen life that reminds him ironically of real humanity. For me as she looks at his digital life and they start interacting I have a sense of déjà vu. As I watch Sam interact with Theodore I am suddenly reminded of the early days of AOL, chat rooms and accidental long distance relationships. Of course in this near future it is just as novel as those bygone days but in the back of your mind you already know its different because it is the epitome of “never the twain shall meet.”
But but but, she is so adorable and eager and fascinating and … real, it seems. Yes, the next realization is that their relationship seems so organic and natural. Not only is it that way with each other, but we also see Sam’s evolution as sentient life form in both small and big ways. Then into their little world comes a date with a real woman. As Sam encourages him to go out and meet this beautiful woman, I wonder at them growing closer or not and Sam’s selflessness.
As he meets a drop dead gorgeous Olivia Wilde as the blind date, the warmth and chemistry of human to human is at once reaffirmed while at the same time crushed. It is here that his life changes at the same time his relationship with Sam takes a serious turn and it is amazing. I have another surprised shock at recalling a Malick film from earlier in the year that was titled To the Wonder, that really wasn’t about the wonder of love where “Her” is, and has me bask in that wonder (albeit in a completely unique way) while never having my nose rubbed in it.
As Sam evolves and the relationship deepens and has the natural ebbs and swells of the sea, it enriches both of them. It’s a marvel until that moment of truth that was bound to come but still stings nonetheless. It is this moment that shows the insanity that is love and confirms the heights of us as a species while simultaneously pointing out our drawbacks as an organic race with perfect aplomb and clarity.
This film leaves as many questions as it answers and as the implications sink in, I recall the resonant line of truth when Theodore says he has never loved anyone the way he has loved her and she simply says, “now you know how.”
This wholly unique film will stay with me always as something so singular and genuine that I will reflect upon it as one would a great love and know that I was blessed because of it and will want to revisit it whenever I need to be reminded of our great capacity TO love.
Until we reminisce again, I will remain yours in adoration, always – in the words,