Love, especially romantic love, is an entity that transcends culture, race, language, and time. Hence, romance has been a staple of cinema since the very beginning of films. This has led to a very formulaic story arc in the genre which can come off quite arid at times. Very few movies have had the nerve to reinvent it. Some movies like ‘(500) Days of Summer’ flip the formula on its head which is a very daring effort but it can get a little disorienting. One movie, though, is bold enough to play with the very definition of love.
On the surface, ‘Her’ is a story of a man falling in love with his computer’s Operating System. But it has much deeper rooted themes. The movie talks about the social isolation that comes with advent of new technology in the context of a human-computer relationship. Theodore, the man in question works at a company that makes beautiful handwritten letters for customers. How isolated do we have to get to send letters to our family and friends that are written by a stranger? Theodore is a very sensitive person who can put himself in the shoes of his customers and write as if he has known them for a lifetime. This works as a voyeuristic pleasure (not in a negative connotation) he feels when becoming a part of a relationship. This is evident from the honest joy we see on his face when he writes. He is emotionally invested in these strangers’ lives sometimes for years, getting to know them deeply. But in his heart he resents that part of himself. This is illustrated very eloquently when he is almost disgusted by a physical surrogate becoming a part of his actual relationship.
His work, a representation of the society he lives, in affects him very deeply. In my opinion, his job makes him emulate falling in love with so many different people that he cannot sustain real romantic feelings with his wife. This makes him feel distant and unable to deal with real emotions. This mirrors our society with our constantly IM-ing culture, in which we are not sufficiently equipped to handle real conversations and emotions in a healthy manner.