100 Movies Bucket List: Her

100 Movies Bucket List was a poster given to Jesse by his sister on Christmas 2019. We are committed to watching all of these movies and writing about them. We have no idea how long this will take. What even is time during the quarantine? And sometimes, these posts will include spoilers. Just a friendly warning from two friendly guys.

This is the second time we have written about Her on our site. I don’t think we often feel the need to touch on a film more than once. We either collaborate on a Let’s Talk About post or just trust the other guy to write about it. I trusted Kevin when Her first came out and he nailed it, as usual. I’m not here simply to tell you how great this movie is, because he already made that point rather emphatically and there are plenty of reviews and articles to support that. So why am I here?

Is Her being revisited just because it’s part of this series? Partly, and as we continue to to forage our way through this list of 100 movies, maybe that will happen more and more. But I think I would have had something to say even if I wasn’t obligated to share. This film hurt me. It reminded me of a time in my life when I was very withdrawn and afraid. The story conveys those emotions in such a realistic way that I was right back there again: a depressed introvert that badly needed a connection, but wasn’t going out of his way to find it.

And for that, I’m grateful. While it can be painful to reflect on these difficult moments that we all experience in our own way, it’s equally important to not forget them. How else can we truly appreciate how far we’ve come in our lives if we don’t take a second to look back and remember where we used to be? I like to think that’s where Theodore, Joaquin Phoenix’s character, finds himself at the end of the film: accepting of the failures of past relationships, appreciative of the good times and the love that was shared, and finally willing to embrace the change and see what a new day has in store for him.

Did I mention this is a guy who rebounds from his divorce by entering into a relationship with his operating system?

A premise that absurd on the surface would’ve been a disaster in less talented hands or if a studio just wanted to make a fun rom-com out of it. It’s a testament to the performances of the lead actors and the tight direction from Spike Jonze that things don’t go completely off the rails. Is there another actor in Hollywood who could’ve done more with this role than Phoenix? Is there anyone that we could’ve related to so effortlessly when he is mostly emoting without anyone else on-screen? I don’t think so. To be fair, I can envision this type of OS actually being released in the real world and many men falling hopelessly in love with a voice that sounds like Scarlett Johansson. Credit goes to Jonze for depicting a future that is not too distant and entirely plausible.

And then there’s the score. It is the perfect soundtrack not just because it works for the film, but because you can easily picture it playing over all of those uncomfortable moments of your own past romances. The courtships, the instances of joy, the rough patches, the breakups and all of the empty spaces in between. It’s the empty parts that pack the biggest wallop, I think. When I listen to the score, I can remember myself floating for seemingly endless amounts of time in that relationship purgatory. I felt trapped there, as most of us do when we are in pain and aren’t doing anything practical to try and fix it. 

I hope I’m making sense here. The point is I don’t always connect with a film on a deeply personal level, but when I do I try to understand why. Her resonated with me and so many others because we’ve all been Theodore at one point in our lives. I certainly don’t think Jonze and his crew were trying to make us all miserable by digging up our past trauma. Rather, I think the message delivered is a very positive one.

It’s okay to not be okay, but don’t be afraid to embrace the opportunity to be happy when it presents itself to you. Love and heartbreak has a profound impact on us, but what we learn and take away from them can help us grow and change. I’m happy to say that I find myself in a much better place these days.

If you aren’t there just yet, give yourself some time. Eventually you will too.

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