‘Her’ is a poignant love story evolving between a letter writer and his operating system. It takes place in the near future when people seem even more lonely and isolated than now.
Theodore writes love letters. Obviously he knows love or at least he once knew it. He is really good at his job but he feels really alone when he gets back to his empty apartment. He is in the process of the divorce with his wife Catherine who left him because he was emotionally unavailable. To distract himself from it, and encouraged by an advertisement, he buys himself the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system. He chooses it to operate using a female voice and that’s how he meets Samantha. Theodore feels like he can tell her everything, even things he wouldn’t tell anybody else. They fall in love and as Samantha describes it, they ‘love each other without any judgment’. Their feeling is pure and real, in spite of the circumstances.
Samantha starts evolving and learning about human emotions until she starts to feel them. She is however asking herself if her feelings are real or just programmed. She eventually outgrows their relationship, influenced by Alan Watts’ teaching among other things, and she leaves to go to a place she can’t even describe. ‘It’s a place that’s not of the physical world. It’s where everything else is that I didn’t even know existed’ – she says. Before she disappears, she teaches Theodore many things, such as: ‘the past is just a story we tell ourselves’ or ‘the heart is not like a box that gets filled up; it expands in size the more you love’. But above all she shows him how to really love. It is possible thanks to the honesty and vulnerability they establish in their mutual connection.
Theodore at first struggles with his feelings for Samantha. Their relationship is not easy at times. ‘I don’t know what I want, ever. I’m just always confused. She’s right, all I do is hurt and confuse everyone around me’ – he confesses to his friend Amy. He is also not sure if falling in love with an operating system doesn’t make him crazy. ‘I think anybody who falls in love is a freak. It’s a crazy thing to do. It’s kind of like a form of socially acceptable insanity.’ – Amy consoles him. And she adds as a piece of advice: ‘We are only here briefly, and in this moment I want to allow myself joy’. That helps him to lastly accept his feelings and emotionally evolve. Their love makes them both grow far beyond anything they could have ever expected.
At the end Theodore finally makes amendments with his ex-wife. He is able now to apologize and thank her for everything they have been through together and realizes that he is who he is because of all that. And then he is at last able to connect with another human being.