On falling in love (with an Operating System)

In the not so distant future, a lonely man named Theodore Twombley
(Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with Samantha (the voice of Scarlett
Johansson), an intuitive operating system. Meanwhile, his friendship
with a recently divorced Amy (Amy Adams) flourishes. You think you
know where this story is going—except that you don’t. Because
writer/director Spike Jonze is simply too interesting, too weird (in the
best possible sense) to tell us to embrace humanity over technology.
Instead, he suggests something more radical: That happiness, even
artificial happiness, is not something to be trifled with.

Theodore’s ex wife (Rooney Mara) pities Theodore for not being able to
sustain a human relationship, his friends, including coworker Paul
(Chris Pratt) are much more blasé about it. Paul even invites the
disembodied Samantha—who rests on a blanket or sits perched in
Theodore’s pocket—on a double-date picnic. Meanwhile, Amy has also
become close to her OS, although their relationship is strictly

The best science fiction gives us a credible vision of the future while slyly commenting on our now. Her—with
its gorgeous, minimalist art direction (by Austin Gorg), retro-future
clothing (Theodore favors orange shirts and high-waisted tweed
trousers), and city streets populated by people who are so plugged into
their interactive devices they barely notice each other—does just that.
(After all, aren’t most of us already in a relationship with
our smartphones?) Jones doesn’t judge, he simply observes, with humor
and humanity. It’s the future, through the eyes of a poet.

job is to write letters, mostly love letters of both the platonic and
romantic kind, for people who are unable to properly express themselves.
A few times Samantha, who absorbs every word of Theodore’s hard drive
in a microsecond, quotes Theodore back to Theodore, and he doesn’t even
realize it. She’s his perfect woman, the Eve to his Adam—except instead
of his rib she’s created out of his hard drive. (And with that breathy
Scarlett Johansson voice, “phone sex” takes on a whole new meaning.)

Sure. But Theodore is undeniably happy with her. Also, Samantha doesn’t
isolate him: He sees the world through her eager, insatiably curious
eyes—she actually lifts him from his funk, opens him up to life’s

A lot of science fiction deals with the threat of some sort of man vs. machine rebellion. Her deals with a more pressing threat: Can an Operating System break your heart?