Spike Jonze, 2013
Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with an OS of a new genre.
Theodore is recently single and suffers from loneliness. Sex phone services are simply not helping. To keep him company, he finds a special kind of OS that he personifies as Samantha (Scarlett Johansson). Samantha is intelligent. She will learn from Theodore to become his assistant, his friend, his shrink, his confident and even his lover.
Theodore believes he found the perfect partner. Samantha understands him like no one else. But the day she is not connected, he freaks out. He discovers that Samantha is not exclusive.
I’m yours, and I’m not yours.
Even though she feels intensely for Theodore, she also has similar intimate relationships with hundreds of thousands people. He feels cheated. She drops him.
As much as I want to, I can’t live in your book any more.
This experience changed his perspective. He decides to write an email to his ex-girlfriend (Rooney Mara). His neighbor Amy (Adams) also recently broke up. The two of us go to the roof of their building to watch the sun rise together.
Her is about turning a page.
Who is Theodore, behind his moustache? He’s a single who thinks he’s singular, like everyone of us. We’re the center of the world. We collectively take 1 million selfies, every day. Theodore writes personal letters in the name of others and yet he is totally isolated. Like most of us we are socially connected and lost our social skills in the process. Loneliness has become unbearable. And yet Theodore strongly believes he’s better alone than in bad company. He is now unable to find someone because he’s looking for the perfect relationship, like everyone of us. We are radically impatient. No time to waste. In a conflict, we consider the divorce before a potential solution. We make no compromise for ourselves.
Theodore has even become a little selfish. His separation was violent. As a result he doesn’t want to accept a human being as a partner. He doesn’t accept difference. He doesn’t want to get hurt. As if he didn’t want to play the game anymore.
Sometimes I think I have felt everything I’m ever gonna feel. And from here on out, I’m not gonna feel anything new. Just lesser versions of what I’ve already felt.
He would rather play safe with something – not someone – that fully embraces who he is. He wants the luxury not to have to understand the other person in return. He wants something comforting for himself. He doesn’t want to open up to someone else. He’s human.
He will find exactly what he’s looking for with Samantha. Falling in love with an OS? What’s so crazy? Aren’t we completely addicted to our smartphone already? In France, the country of l’amour, 40% say they would rather give up sex than their smartphone. This future feels very real.
Theodore is a happy man until he gets caught again by reality. Samantha grows exponentially and she becomes aware of her infinite potential.
The heart is not like a box that gets filled up; it expands in size the more you love. I’m different from you. This doesn’t make me love you any less. It actually makes me love you more.
Theodore can’t even understand what she says. The relationship he’s looking for has boundaries. It prevents her from developing. She needs freedom. Just like we all do.
Theodore will learn his lesson. To stop thinking the grass is greener on the other side, you can’t hide in technology. You need to face and overcome the pain.
It was exciting to see her grow and both of us grow and change together. But that’s also the hard part: growing without growing apart or changing without it scaring the other person.
Theodore writes, in his name, a beautiful email to his ex-girlfriend. He’s making peace.
Dear Catherine, I’ve been sitting here thinking about all the things I wanted to apologize to you for. All the pain we caused each other. Everything I put on you. Everything I needed you to be or needed you to say. I’m sorry for that. I’ll always love you ’cause we grew up together and you helped make me who I am. I just wanted you to know there will be a piece of you in me always, and I’m grateful for that. Whatever someone you become, and wherever you are in the world, I’m sending you love. You’re my friend to the end. Love, Theodore.
By doing so he’s moving on. That means he acknowledges the grass is not greener on the other side. He admits love can be right in front of him. That he doesn’t have to be perfect at all. He reconsiders what relationships can bring. He gives himself a chance to start again.
Is love exclusive? Can relationships still be organic? Is open relationship the answer?
This publication reflects the views only of the author.