The movie Her is set in a fast paced, advanced, and mechanized society. The urban landscape of the setting combined with a high population density make daily life in the film appear to be rushed and chaotic. These factors lead to a general sentiment of detachment and disillusionment.
The general spirit of dispassion can be qualified through the profession of Theodore, the main character in the movie. Theodore works as a writer at the Beautiful Handwritten Letters Company. In his role, he writes personal letters on behalf of his clients. Theodore has developed a relationship with many of his customers, as he has written so many letters for them over the years. In some instances, he even knows certain intimate details of his clients’ relationships.
Writing letters to loved ones on their special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, graduations, and other notable events is a very personal and intimate affair. The hiring of an outside service to write such letters represents an increased insecurity of intimate relationships and the breakdown of the personal connections. This letter service is a concrete example of the general erosion of engagement between humans that is happening among all people in the film.
The introduction of the “OS” further fosters this detachment and lack of connections. People prefer to interact with machinery over human beings once the system becomes widespread. That being said, the intrinsic societal conditions in the movie lay groundwork for this transition.
Therefore, the purpose of Theodore having the job that he does is to cement idea that the priority of life is efficiency and convenience rather than the sacrifices and effort that are necessary in a human relationship. In the film, the connections between people are not substantial and tools like this letter service enforce the idea that love and care for others are really just a façade.
Viewers of the movie are expected to be angered by the Beautiful Handwritten Letters Company. This is because in the real world, most people are unable to quantify the value of the connections that they share with others. The thought of paying for a service that builds and maintains connections is ludicrous and incomprehensible to most people. This anger serves a purpose. It highlights just how different the conditions of the society in the film are from reality. As such, the elicitation of an emotion is used here to clarify and emphasize the contrasts of norms that are in the movie from the norms that viewers value so highly.
Her. Dir. Spike Jonze. Perf. Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, and Scarlett Johansson. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2013. DVD.