I went to see ‘Her’ last weekend. Have you seen it? It’s set in LA sometime in the not-too-distant future. Joaquin Phoenix, who I think is an exceptionally gifted actor (let’s just forget about the weird performance art movie shit), plays Theodore, a lonely person in a sea of lonely people. They are lonely because as technological advances are made in an effort to make the world a smaller place and connect us all to one another, the dependence on that technology is what keeps us feeling alone and isolated, even when we think we’re happy. Our Internet offers merely a semblance of connectedness.
Theodore works as a writer-of-letters-for other people. Each missive is genuinely heartfelt and soulful. He becomes infatuated with a new operating system, one that promises to help him stay organized and be more productive. It’s a non-corporeal personal assistant – equipped with the name Samantha and the voice of Scarlett Johanssen who, through a developing intimacy with Theodore, begins to feel, or imagine, real feelings.
I’m in the fourth row and the proximity to Phoenix’s face makes it all the more compelling, his nuanced expressions that much more pronounced. All of these elements, and the story, come together in such a visceral way that the movie’s making me feel depressed. I wonder if I’ll feel that way through the entire thing. The sheer loneliness surrounding the truly hilarious and witty moments is almost gut-wrenching.
I’m on a date with this guy. It’s our third date. I like him. But I’m not sure I like him like him. On our second date we made out and got handsy on a subway platform for what felt like 12 hours at 3:00 in the morning. Everyone knows the third date is the one where you have sex. Maybe there’s the semi-perfunctory cocktails and dinner, or dinner and a movie, but at the end of the night you both know where you’re going to end up
I’m sitting next to my date and I don’t feel anything. He’s made his amorous feelings for me clear, but I don’t feel a buzz circulating between us. There’s no primal pull that even makes me feel like I want to lean closer to him in our theatre seats. It’s an especially strange and, dare I say, profound feeling to have with someone you’re potentially dating during a movie like ‘Her.’ When the movie was over he didn’t mention whether he liked it or not. In fact, there was no talking at all as we walked out and I wondered if it made him depressed or lonely. He asked me to come over, but we may have been on different dates.