Beautiful “Handwritten” Letters

In the movie Her, Theodore’s job at the Beautiful Handwritten Letters company makes audience question where the line can be drawn between allowing someone who is more equip than you to handle things as well as what we can consider real or not, all of which add up to making us question our own relationships and how they would survive in this particular type of society.

He mentions at one point how he has been writing letters for almost twenty years to the same child from the child’s parents. We as the audience are not equip to say that this particular child’s parents were too lazy to write a letter on their own or maybe felt they could not convey the same message that Theodore and his company are able to, though they mean every word that Theodore writes. In today’s society if our toilet is broken, we hire a plumber to fix the problem for us because they are more trained and skilled in this particular field. Who is to say that the Beautiful Handwritten Letters company and Theodore are not doing the same exact thing.

If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound? Similarly, if a letter is written by someone different than you thought it was from but you do not know the original person did not write it, does it matter? Through Theodore’s intimate experiences with his Operating System Samantha, audience members are left unsure of if it can be classified as a real relationship or not. Likewise, Theodore’s profession gives viewers the same type of uncertainty. Theodore has been writing letter for clients, often the same ones, for years now. He knows a lot about them even better then he knows himself. He knows that one client’s wife has a crooked front tooth and that is the “reason” he fell in love with her, or so his letters claim.

Is writing these letters an acceptable act? Would we as viewers feel loved or hurt if we received a letter from Theodore’s company? I believe this film gave Theodore this particular profession to allow viewers to see there is no black and white answers to these questions. Relationships in general in the movie Her are not what we expect relationships to be like today. Theodore’s profession drives us to question our own relationships and see what we would/ would not allow in them if they were to take place during this time. While we may not have a relationship like the ones present in the movie Her, we can still use these relationships as a way to test the boundaries of our own.

Her. Dir. Spike Jonze. Perf. Scarlett Johanson, Joaquin Phoenix. Warner Brothers Pictures, 2013. Netflix.

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3 thoughts on “Beautiful “Handwritten” Letters

  1. My partner for the month of October did not post this week so I figured I would make one more comment on yours. That being said, I really enjoyed this post. I think that you made some great points about the fact that it may seem weird to us but it really is a normal thing to Theodore. He does not think that there is anything wrong with his job. I kind of agree with him too, if writing letters is something that he is good at then why shouldn’t he be paid to do it. I did not think about the fact that these people didn’t know that he was writing the letters so I think that was a good point to make. Overall I thought this was a very well written blog post.

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    • Your post made me rethink my opinion of the movie and American culture multiple times. Throughout watching “Her” and reading your post, I wondered what a real relationship is. I just Googled it, and read on Google that it’s “the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.” Through this definition, Theodore and Samantha have a real relationship. However, through provincial American standards, Theodore and Samantha aren’t in a real relationship because Samantha is an OS.
      I see what you’re saying in the second paragraph. I think what makes us question Theodore’s job’s validity is the fact that letters are more personal than fixing a toilet. On the other hand, I can relate to Theodore here. When I went to sleep away camp, I used to write letters for one of my best friends to her parents. In my defense, she would tell me some of the points she wanted included in the letter, and I would string them together and add some I miss you’s.
      I think that Americans are too narrow minded to understand that Theodore might truly love an OS. It’s as if he’s talking to a girl on the phone, and we wouldn’t think anything of that. But the second we hear that it isn’t an actual girl, we become skeptical. Everyone I’ve talked to at Emory about the movie hasn’t given me a response that doesn’t include some form of “the movie is weird…it’s good, but weird.” Your post does a good job of trying to combat this opinion and see the situation from Theodore’s perspective.

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