| May 23, 2014

HerEDITORIAL – One of the most uncomfortable, most original films I’ve seen this year. Her is the story of love and the problems which inevitably come with it. It’s nothing new, but yet it is. It’s nothing that can’t be understood, but yet it seems impossible. And it tests our own definitions of not only normalcy, but relationships, as well as what defines them.

In a galaxy not so far away, in a time period not so different from our own, a single ear bud connects us to our emails, our music, and our friends. Her deals with the same issues we have all had in our relationships. The fact that Samantha isn’t present is an issue people in long distance relationships deal with every day. Theodore still worries about what his friends will think of her. And Samantha, though she’s an iOS, is still able to hurt Theodore. They still have fights, they still make love, and they are both still so wrapped up in defining their relationship, the film could almost qualify as some sort of wicked comedy which parodies all of our dependence on the iPhone. However, all of these instances, though they seem to blur the lines of what defines a relationship, actually cement them into one simple definition of relationships: As long as there is one person, who has an inkling of reason to believe he or she is in a relationship, he or she will believe so.

Proven through endless hurt feelings after first dates, one night stands, or even locked eyes across a crowded cafe, we have all been the victims of tricking ourselves into believing something is a relationship. Is this a primal instinct, that we feel the need to connect with someone in order to feel more cemented in our thoughts on ourselves? Is the only way we can truly define ourselves through another individual’s reflection back on ourselves and whether or not we believe in it? In the same way that many words can only be defined by their opposite definitions, are we forced into the same issue as individuals? Do we only know who we are by clearly knowing who we are not? For example, Theodore only knows he is in love because he feels his love is reflected back to him by Samantha. He only knows he is heart broken because he does not feel his love reflected back to him by Samantha. If so, relationships then must constantly be a reflection of either ourselves, or the opposite of ourselves, since there is no way to only reflect one part of ourselves. Therefore, we are consistently at odds in our relationships. As humans, it seems impossible to define ourselves, but even more so when we must define ourselves with someone else.

And, although the premise of this storyline seems to be hard to wrap the mind around, we can see things clearly as soon as the story opens. Theodore is no different from you. The strange thing is that you’ll probably connect to him as well as his iOS. Samantha is engaging, witty, and intellectual. She provides all of the comforts of a relationship without, what seems like, any of the commitment. Theodore isn’t a crazy man; he’s a man who has been divorced, and is working to find a way to redefine himself. And, though he continues to verbalize that he doesn’t need a relationship, it seems to be the only way he can make any progress while simultaneously stepping backwards.

The issue of this film is not what others will have you believe. The issue is not that Theodore is in love with an iOS, but that he is in love. Whether it’s with an OS, or a person, or even in a film, love is not known for its simplicity, but for its problems. It is undefinable. It’s messy, self-loathing, and extremely bi-polar. Involving thoughts of love, or even simply the word, in any relationship creates a third party with its own set of issues which is completely unique based upon the relationship. Therefore, the issue is not being in love, the issue is that if love is in us, it will inevitably create a relationship in which there are not simply two individuals, but two individuals as well as each individual’s thoughts, experiences, questions, and expectations of love all looking to see themselves reflected and defined in order to prove they exist.

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