It’s not often that I have the inclination or the time to see a movie more than once, especially when it is in theatrical release. Her, as you know if you read the previous post, is an exception.
I have a deep appreciation for this movie and wanted a chance to view it again and see if there are new insights to glean. It turns out that I loved what I liked the first time around and still loved what I loved the second time.
No reason to rehash previously covered ground, but I will add a few comments.
First, it would be possible to dedicate an entire post to color and costuming. Instead, here are a few lines.
When Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) meets the operating system that/who becomes his girlfriend, Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), he is wearing a shirt of rosy, hopeful pink bordering on red that suggests hope and the possibility of passion. Not incidentally, it’s the exact same color of Samantha’s screen on the computer.
When things are going well for the couple, this remains Theodore’s signature color. The match is a giveaway – should two people be identically matched? Where’s the mystery in that? A fit is essential, of course, but happily enduring couples are not carbon copies of one another.
Another clue to pay attention to (MINOR SPOILERS FOLLOW TO THE END) is that Amy (Amy Adams) is wearing a softer shade of pink the first time her character appears, a shade that complements but does not replicate Theodore’s clothing.
When Theodore exercises caution (see photo below), he wears yellow. When things with Samantha hit a rough patch, he wears blue.
When it is time for him to start all over again, he wears white. Does this represent a blank slate? Does it mark a new starting point from which Theodore might get it right? Let’s hope so.
And, exactly what is it that he needs to change? With pen and paper this time, I wrote down a few quotes in the beautifully written film (you may be a genius, Spike Jonze) that particularly resonated with me the first time I saw it.
The scene that still touches me most is when Theodore first opens up to Samantha and demonstrates an authenticity that he was not able to sustain (if ever established) with his wife, Catherine (Rooney Mara).
Samantha asks Theodore about his breakup and says, “I want to be as complicated as all these people.” To try to explain what happened, Theodore reveals a level of self-awareness that makes him such an appealing character, “I think I hid myself from her…left her alone in the relationship.”
It is hard for him to move on and sign the divorce papers because, as he shares with Samantha, “I keep waiting to not care about her.” Even though, as Catherine points out in a later scene, “It does make me sad that you can’t handle real emotions, Theodore,” and “You always wanted to have a wife without the challenges of anything real.”
These important insights do not keep Theodore from repeating the pattern again, this time with Samantha, but when the tables are ultimately turned on him and Samantha hides herself, there is a new possibility of empathy with Catherine that he was not capable of before and hope, demonstrated by the letter Theodore writes his ex-wife, that his new level of awareness may make it possible for him to be authentic with a new partner and find a better way forward.
I don’t really see this as a film about humanity and technology but, instead, as a film about learning enough about oneself to engage openly, honestly, and fully with another person.
If you haven’t seen Her yet, make haste to the cinema before it disappears – the cinematography deserves to be seen on the big screen.